Charting a course for decarbonizing maritime transport : summary for policymakers and industry

Global maritime transport plays a crucial role in both facilitating trade and fostering economic development at an international scale. Carrying an estimated 70 percent of global trade by value and 80 percent by volume, maritime transport is an essential component of the global transportation network that underpins the daily functions of the world economy. In this context, international shipping is often seen as a critical enabler of developing countries' economic advancement, as approximately 60 percent of goods transported internationally by sea are loaded or unloaded in developing countries. Also, 15 out of the 20 busiest global ports, by volume, are located in these countries. In particular, many small island developing states and least developed countries are highly dependent on low-cost international maritime transport for the supply of essential goods such as food, clothing, construction material, or pharmaceuticals. In recent years, maritime transport has come under increased pressure to lower, and ultimately eliminate, its negative environmental impacts, especially with regard to climate change and air pollution. Today, the sector faces a plethora of challenges, ranging from adapting to the global pandemic, navigating a global economic crisis and geopolitical tensions, to the need for increased digitalization. However, the most pressing existential issue that the sector experiences is the need to eliminate its negative environmental impacts, especially with regard to atmospheric pollution. These environmental impacts have placed maritime transport under increased public scrutiny. The sector has faced increased pressure to rapidly reduce its significant contribution to climate change and to urgently lower its high levels of air pollution.