The International Maritime Organization has set out plans to develop a basket of mid-term decarbonisation measures that will include technical and carbon-pricing elements.

The plan was agreed at an Intersessional Working Group on the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships.

The working group’s agreements will be now discussed at a Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting in June.

The working group also made some progress on developing concrete proposals for the mid-term measures.

Maritime consultancy UMAS welcomed the outcome of the meeting, describing it as “major progress”.

Dr Tristan Smith, Director UMAS said: “To many, especially in industry, pricing GHG [greenhouse gas] emission has been the obvious next step for a while. It is not a new concept to IMO, but previous attempts to progress it have failed.

“It is therefore a huge step forward that there is now consensus on this. Pricing needs to be complemented with a mandatory measure like a fuel standard, but there is now a much-improved potential for strong IMO incentivisation of shipping’s decarbonisation.”

It has yet to be decided which market-based measure the IMO will finally select. There are a number of contesting proposals on the table, including cap-and-trade schemes and alternative ideas for carbon levies on either fuel or emissions.

The IMO is also debating whether to revise its current decarbonisation target from 50% of 2008 emission levels by 2050 to zero emissions by 2050.

The IMO said it does not have to come to a decision on this at the next MEPC meeting although it will form part of the discussion.

The target will play an important role in determining which technical and market-based solutions will be required.