EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

Back to EUR-Lex homepage

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

EU strategy to reduce CO2 emissions from shipping

EU strategy to reduce CO2 emissions from shipping

The European Union (EU) has an ambitious agenda to tackle climate change. Up until now, every form of transport, except the international maritime sector, has been contributing to the objectives the EU has set itself. Moves are now under way for shipping to start playing its part.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Integrating maritime transport emissions in the EU’s greenhouse gas reduction policies (COM(2013) 479 final of 28.6.2013).



The EU makes it clear that it fully supports international efforts to reduce maritime greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In parallel, the EU is taking its own initiatives. The communication sets out a gradual approach for including shipping in its overall target to reduce GHG emissions.


This gradual approach contains the following three steps.

  • 1.

    Applying an effective monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) system. This would establish reliable data on shipping’s GHG emissions. Ship-owners would be able to use whichever reliable methodology they wished. A proposed regulation sets out the scope and operational features of such a system.

  • 2.

    Setting intermediary reduction targets. Legislation already exists for all other industrial sectors and forms of transport to contribute to the EU’s target of cutting GHG emissions by at least 40 % below 1990 levels by 2030. This could be extended to shipping. The 2011 White Paper on transport established a reduction target of 40 % (if feasible, 50 %) by 2050, compared to 2005, as an aspirational goal for maritime shipping.

  • 3.

    Using market-based measures (MBMs). These could require a vessel to pay into a compensation fund or to exchange allowances within the EU’s emissions trading system, depending on the level of emissions it produces.


EU shipping accounts for 4 % of all EU GHG emissions. However, these are set to increase significantly in the future - possibly by 50 % by 2050, compared to 2010 levels. Reducing these emissions will not only help tackle climate change, but it will also reduce fuel consumption and a vessel’s operating costs.

For more information, see the European Commission’s website on reducing emissions from the shipping sector.


Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon dioxide emissions from maritime transport and amending Regulation (EU) No 525/2013 (COM(2013) 480 final of 28.6.2013).

last update 19.03.2015