The initial strategy represents a framework for Member States, setting out the future vision for global shipping, the levels of ambition to reduce GHG emissions and guiding principles; and includes candidate short-, mid- and long-term further measures with possible timelines and their impacts on States. There were objections from Argentina and Brazil, nations whose dependence on long-distance shipping for trade purposes arguably exposes them to a heavier penalty than most, with respect to emissions targets. There was limited opposition to the deal with Saudi Arabia and the United States expressing reservations.
In Brussels, the European Commission hailed the deal as "a significant step forward" in the global effort to tackle climate change.
Proposals for cutting carbon dioxide emissions in shipping have been under discussion for a number of years.
"The shipping sector must contribute its fair share to the goals of the Paris Agreement", said EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc and her colleague in charge of Energy and Climate Action, Miguel Arias Cañete.
The commissioners said: "While the European Union had sought a higher level of ambition, this [strategy] is a good starting point that will allow for further review and improvements over time..."
Dr Tristan Smith, an energy and shipping reader at the UCL Energy Institute, said that the 2050 target is likely to be tightened even further in the future.
This is the first time the industry has committed to such a target. "It makes clear that the shipping industry and fuel supplier need to scale up investments in new technologies and their rapid deployment, including alternative fuels and propulsion systems", said Mark Lutes, senior global climate policy advisor, WWF.
Over 170 countries reached an agreement on IMO's Green House Gas (GHG) strategy, adopted at the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 72) on 13 April, with a strong emphasis on scaling up action to phase out emissions completely.
Now that the initial strategy has been finalized, IMO will consider which, if any, of the short-term measures should be made mandatory.
According to the "Roadmap" approved by IMO Member States in 2016, the initial strategy is due to be revised by 2023. No other reproduction or distribution is permitted without prior written consent.