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Transition to Low-carbon Shipping

The Nordic Council of Ministers through the Nordic Working Group for Global Climate Negotiations (NOAK) has launched a project aiming to explore potential for Nordic action in the area of maritime transport and climate change after the Paris Agreement. The project, which runs from August 2016 to February 2017, has been commissioned and will be carried out by a consortium of three renowned institutions: the Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, the Energy Institute, University College London, United Kingdom and Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.

Greenhouse Gas emissions from the maritime transport sector are expected to grow by 50-250% by 2050 under a business-as-usual scenario.[1]  Maritime transport shows a great potential to curtail emissions through operational and technical options,[2] however, existing measures in places will not be enough to achieve reductions in line with the 2°C target.  The regulation of the sector’s emissions has proven extremely challenging under the climate regime and the International Maritime Organization, as was underlined by their omission from the text of the recently adopted Paris Agreement.[3] This scenario leaves space for regional/country level initiatives to prompt and influence action at the international spheres. There is therefore a strong case for the Nordic countries to explore how to help operationalize the Paris Agreement temperature stabilization aims, and to influence the choices to curb emissions in the maritime sector at the international level.

This project seeks to inform Nordic work on the implementation of the Paris Agreement with regards to the maritime transport sector, creating the necessary basis for finding a suitable position for Nordic action and showcasing Nordic examples.

For this purpose, a workshop, bringing together academia, government, industry and other stakeholders, will take place at the World Maritime University in Malmö on the 13th of December. A preliminary discussion paper will be produced by the end of November to inform discussions at the workshop and a final report with the results of the project, i.e. the formulation of a set of suggestions for Nordic action aiming to form the basis for specific projects under the Nordic Council of Ministers and/or other institutions in the future, will be delivered in January 2017.


[1] See IMO 2014 Study, at 127-146.

[2] See A. Bows-Larkin, ‘All Adrift: Aviation, Shipping, and Climate Change Policy’, 15:6 Climate Policy (2015), 681.

[3] Paris Agreement (Paris, 12 December 2016; not yet in force).