International Shipping and Climate Change: Agreement Reached at the International Maritime Organization

Pollution Probe commends the leadership of the Government of Canada at the United Nation’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) last week in London, UK. The IMO’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee agreed on July 7, 2023 to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping by mid-century. The IMO Committee also agreed to reduce GHG emissions by at least 20% by 2030 and reductions of 70% by 2040. The Government of Canada’s delegation at the IMO, led by Transport Canada, played an important role in the achievement of these historic commitments by the maritime sector to take action in fighting climate change. Pollution Probe was honoured to participate in this important work as part of the Canadian delegation.

Strong and immediate action by the IMO is necessary and long overdue. There is no time to waste as we see increasing climate emergencies happening around the globe. International shipping is a major and increasing source of global greenhouse gas emissions. If this sector were a country, it would be the sixth largest emitter of climate change causing pollutants, and its emissions are increasing. In 2021, shipping emissions rose by almost 5%. Without aggressive regulatory action by the IMO and its member countries, emissions are forecasted to grow by as much as 250% by 2050. Pollution Probe therefore encourages the Government of Canada to continue its leadership by supporting the development of strong regulatory emissions standards at the IMO which will be vital in achieving the climate commitments announced last week. Similarly, we strongly encourage the Government of Canada to ensure that the climate commitments announced by the IMO are also applied to Canada’s domestic shipping industry, in particular its Great Lakes fleet.

Pollution Probe also endorses the important commitment announced by the Government of Canada at last week’s IMO session to designate an Emissions Control Area (ECA) in Canada’s Arctic. Increasing shipping activity and emissions in Canada’s Arctic threatens the health of citizens particularly, indigenous populations, and the natural environment. The establishment of an ECA would ensure that Canada’s Arctic has the same level of protection from shipping emissions as the rest of Canada. Pollution Probe looks forward to the approval of the Government of Canada’s Arctic ECA proposal at the next meeting of the IMO’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee in early 2024.

For further information please contact: Steve McCauley (

About Pollution Probe 

Pollution Probe is a Canadian charitable environmental organization founded in September 1969 by University of Toronto students and professors. Over the past 5 decades, Pollution Probe has been at the forefront of progress on a range of environmental issues. We pursue environmental gains by working productively with governments, industry and the public, with a steadfast commitment to Clean Air, Clean Water, and a Healthy Planet.

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