As the volume of goods traded across the world continues to increase, emissions from container ships are becoming a more prevalent source of pollution. In an effort to transition to industry towards a greener future, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has proposed a regulation that would make ships pay for their emissions.
Proposed at an IMO meeting in June by the Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands, the new policy would charge shipping companies $100 for every metric ton of carbon dioxide they emit, starting in 2025. The system would be tiered, increasing the charge per ton every five years to eventually force the entire industry to transition to renewable options like ammonia and hydrogen fuel cells.
The market-based approach would incentivize companies to adopt more sustainable practices, but it would also free up funding for climate-vulnerable countries, like island nations, to build climate-resilient infrastructure. Some countries already implement similar small-scale schemes. Norway, for example, charges ships a tax on emissions of harmful air pollutant nitrogen oxides and uses the funds to invest in pollution-reducing measures such as constructing battery-powered ferries.
Currently, the shipping industry is responsible for three percent of global emissions, and the IMO hopes this new policy, if approved, would contribute towards their goal of reducing emissions by 40 percent by 2030, compared to 2008 levels. The IMO is expected to vote on the measure in their meeting in October.