This week’s newsletter takes a close look at the key shipping-focussed moments in the COP26 climate conference and what comes next. Sign up at to receive Green Seas in your inbox every Tuesday.


You won't find the words shipping or maritime anywhere in the Glasgow climate pact agreed on Saturday, just as the far more consequential Paris Agreement was devoid of reference to the sector.

US bureau chief Eric Priante Martin writes the Green Seas newsletter every week. Photo: Eric Priante Martin

But that doesn't mean shipping was a sideshow at the United Nations' COP26 climate change conference, which drew leaders from around the world in a bid to boost the ambition of global efforts to cap global warming at 1.5C.

In fact, seaborne transport was at the centre of several multilateral pledges and agreements through the course of the conference, and the event left little doubt that shipping has a role to play in ensuring that the Paris Agreement's goal is within reach.

Bo Cerup-Si­mon­sen, chief exec­u­tive of the Maersk Mc-Kin­ney Mol­ler Center for Zero Car­bon Ship­ping, also told me that COP26 served to highlight the shipping industry's first movers in decarbonisation efforts.

"Shipping was very visible at COP26 and, I believe, to an extent that shipping has never been before," he said.

Here are some of the key shipping-focused developments at COP26:

  1. Just transition: Rarely mentioned in the debate over decarbonisation are seafarers, who ultimately will be on the front lines of using the fuels of the future. That's what the Just Transition Maritime Task Force aims to address, with an alliance of labour and shipowners seeking to ensure that efforts to cut carbon also protect the industry's seagoing workforce.
  2. Stepping off the gas: More than 100 countries, led by the US and European Union joined the Global Methane Pledge to cut emissions of the main ingredient in natural gas by 30%. Major ship operators defended the use of LNG in their vessels as a way to reduce carbon emissions now, and an LNG fuelling industry group said the pledge is a positive step because of its focus on well-to-wake greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Green corridors: A coalition of 19 countries signed the Clydebank Declaration, which aims to create at least six green shipping corridors by 2025, before scaling up with more routes by 2030. That helps on the journey to decarbonise the industry "as long as those lessons can properly be translated to elsewhere around the world", International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) secretary-general Guy Platten told me.
  4. IMO push: In the opening days of the Glasgow conference, a coalition of nations including the US, UK, Norway, Panama and the Marshall Islands urged the International Maritime Organization to target zero carbon from shipping by 2050. IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim told an ICS conference that he believes the UN shipping regulator will hear the call.

Attention now turns to a meeting starting Monday of the IMO's Maritime Environmental Protection Committee. The agenda includes an ICS-led proposal to set up a $5bn research and development fund to kickstart zero-carbon technology, as well as calls for a levy on carbon to close the price gap with dirtier fuels. A key question is whether the committee will take steps to direct the IMO on a more ambitious, zero-carbon course. Green Seas will be watching.

More sustainability stories

• Aiming for the US offshore wind sector, Eneti is poised to build a Jones Act-compliant wind turbine installation vessel at the Keppel AmFELS shipyard in Brownsville, Texas, for 2024 delivery. Read the story in TradeWinds.

• The chairman of mining giant Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) plans to have the world's first ammonia-powered ship ready by the end of 2022. The claim comes after the company abandoned a plan to build LNG-fuelled bulkers. Read the story in TradeWinds.

• Analysis by commodities intelligence firm ICIS found that green hydrogen from renewable sources is actually cheaper to produce than grey hydrogen, which is made from methane using carbon capture. Read the story in Recharge.

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