What Now? From Ambition to Action

The Annual Summit 2023 was held in Athens just three months after the International Maritime Organization (IMO) unveiled a significantly more ambitious greenhouse gas strategy for the shipping sector. The gathering was thus arguably the first time that many of those tasked with turning the policy framework into action were together in one room.

February 22 2024

The timing of the Summit found many participants cautiously optimistic about the IMO’s revised strategy. Adopted in July, it calls for net-zero sector emissions “by or around 2050”, sets further-reaching indicative 2030 and 2040 checkpoints for emissions reductions, and introduces an ambition for zero or near-zero emission fuels and technologies to make up at least five percent, striving for ten percent, of the energy used by international shipping by 2030.

Following the theme “from ambition to action”, participants were tasked with finding ways, both big and small and both individual and collective, to achieve the strategy’s goals. Through small working groups, plenary sessions, and keynote addresses, participants focused on how to intensify shipping’s decarbonisation, improve working conditions and attract the workforce of the future, and the increasing importance of good governance and accountability.

Key themes to emerge included:

  • The exploration of different models for aggregating fuel demand to help support economies of scale
  • Reconsidering existing contract structures to incentivise carbon efficiency
  • The need to embrace a new age of accountability, both in terms of decarbonisation and in how the industry treats its people
  • Why seafarer mental health should be put on par with safety through mandatory training and better education
  • How to provide adequate training on handling new fuels and operating new technologies
  • Why the industry should be willing to have uncomfortable conversations, such as around ending flags of convenience