Countries on Friday 7 July adopted a revised greenhouse gas (GHG) strategy for shipping that sets a net zero emissions target by around the middle of the century, prompting environmental groups to say it was nowhere near ambitious enough.

After days of discussions in London at the U.N. shipping agency the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) headquarters, member countries agreed to reach net zero “by or around, i.e., close to 2050, taking into account different national circumstances.”

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said the unanimous support from all 175 member states was “particularly meaningful” and that the deal opened “a new chapter towards maritime decarbonisation.”

Shipping, which transports around 90% of world trade and accounts for nearly 3% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, has faced calls from environmentalists and investors to deliver more concrete action, including a carbon levy.

Indeed shipping companies are already moving quickly to order low-emission ships with methanol, ammonia and LNG being fuels of choice with many opting for dual fuel vessels with minimal emission fuels being used on coastal waters.

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