The Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII), integral to global efforts to enhance energy efficiency in shipping and cut emissions, will be on the table for discussion as the United Nations agency in charge of climate regulation of global shipping convenes in London at the Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC 81). Delegates of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will discuss policies and tactics to move forward with the groundbreaking greenhouse gas strategy, established in July 2023. The strategy, backed by 175 countries, aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030, and 80% by 2040 to achieve zero emissions by 2050. With the first target looming, urgent action is needed.  

The CII came into force on 1 November 2022, and applies to all ships under the IMO Data Collection System. However, the current framework lacks stringency or a strong enforcement mechanism, with little in the way of consequences if ships fail to comply. 

As pivotal climate negotiations continue this week, addressing the urgency of reducing shipping’s polluting emissions is imperative. By improving operational efficiencies, the shipping industry can reduce its impact on climate and ocean health, says Seas At Risk, and the European Union needs to show its leadership skills to ensure the implementation of stringent emission reduction measures. Adopting cleaner technologies and practices, favouring wind propulsion and slowing down ships, can immediately benefit the ocean. Marine life can, once again, flourish as underwater noise will lessen, and whale strikes are avoided.   

Setting immediate emission targets is vital to ensure that we keep global heating below 1.5C, and a well-planned revised CII aligned with the IMO’s revised greenhouse gas strategy is essential. The EU, committed to ambitious climate action, needs to focus on a strong CII, which would reduce demand for fuel, cutting greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, and aligning with the IMO’s climate objectives.  

“A strengthened and enhanced Carbon Intensity Indicator is pivotal if the shipping industry is to achieve the IMO’s decarbonisation targets and do so in an efficient and cost-effective way that also delivers important co-benefits for ocean health,” said Anaïs Rios, Seas At Risk’s Shipping Policy Officer. “While important, the current EU focus on fuels and carbon pricing is not enough. As the world faces up to the challenge of decarbonising international shipping EU leadership on short-term action including a strengthened CII driving the roll-out of wind propulsion and slower speed is urgently needed”.  

Seas At Risk urges the EU to lead the way in decarbonisation efforts as the IMO negotiates to reduce shipping’s environmental impact. By leveraging the collective strength of its Member States, the EU can set a powerful example, showing the need for unified action to achieve greenhouse gas reduction targets. It is only through collaborative efforts and strong commitment that we can truly win the fight against global warming and protect the ocean’s health.