Decarbonization of maritime transport: to be or not to be?

Harilaos N. Psaraftis*

*Corresponding author for this work

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International shipping is at a crossroads as regards decarbonization. The Paris climate change agreement in 2015 (COP21) was hailed by many as a most significant achievement. Others were less enthusiastic, and more recently American President Trump decided to take the U.S. out of the agreement. Four years earlier, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) had adopted the most sweeping piece of regulation pertaining to maritime greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction, in the name of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI). In addition, one year after COP21, the IMO adopted a mandatory data collection system for fuel consumption of ships and agreed on an initial strategy and roadmap on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships. This paper takes a critical look at the above and other recent developments and focuses on the challenges faced by the industry if a path to significant CO2 reductions is to be successful. Difficulties and opportunities are identified, and the paper conjectures that the main obstacles are neither technical nor economic, but political.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMaritime Economics & Logistics
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)353-371
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Emissions reduction
  • Green shipping
  • Decarbonization of shipping
  • CO2 emissions from ships


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