And GHG emissions from global shipping are to peak as soon as possible with the total annual GHG emissions reduced by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, while pursuing efforts to phase them on a pathway of Carbon dioxide emissions reduction consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goals.
"The shipping sector must contribute its fair share to the goals of the Paris Agreement", said EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc and her colleague in charge of Energy and Climate Action, Miguel Arias Cañete. After all, global trade is only going to rise. "Climate change is real, and we have a responsibility to play our part in preventing further damage to the environment".
Of course, these are uncharted waters for the IMO so the agreement should only be viewed as an initial strategy.
"I encourage you to continue your work through the newly adopted Initial GHG Strategy which is designed as a platform for future actions", said Kitack Lim, IMO Secretary-General.
This is the first time the industry has committed to such a target. The Marshall Islands called for a 100 per cent cut in emissions by 2035, a group of countries (including India and Saudi Arabia) pushed for no outright cap on emissions, while the European Union wanted a cut of between 70 per cent and 100 per cent by 2050.
"This achievement, while not ideal, sends a positive message to the world that shipping is united in reducing GHG emissions", said Mr Jackson. The IMO nations also began a process to ban heavy fuel oil in Arctic waters.More news: US troops not leaving Syria until goals accomplished: Haley
The Marshall Islands is home to the world's second biggest ship registry and has been at the forefront of efforts to lobby for emissions reductions at the International Maritime Organisation. Their concern was that a target to reduce emissions would have adverse economic impacts on developing countries.
Expectations are that over the next few years this target will be tightened and brought closer in line with the Paris Agreement commitments.
Global director of corporates and supply chain at Carbon Disclosure Project, Dexter Galvin, said while the progress was "good to see" the pledged 50% reduction did not go far enough. "The customers of shipping companies are increasingly demanding action and transparency from their suppliers".
The initial strategy represents a framework for member states, setting out the future vision for worldwide shipping, the levels of ambition to reduce GHG emissions and guiding principles. This working group will be tasked with developing follow-up actions to the Initial strategy, further considering how to progress reduction of GHG emissions in order to advise the committee and reporting to the next MEPC session, which meets October 22-26.
The IMO has agreed to hold a fourth inter-sessional meeting of its working group on reducing GHGs later in the year.