In a historical agreement that took place in London, carbon dioxide from ships at sea will be regulated for the first time after two weeks of talks.
The agreement, which was brokered by the International Maritime Organization and includes the 170 countries that are part of the organization, will make ships at sea reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at 50 percent by the year 2050.
Currently, most ships are fueled by the use of heavy oils and all will have to go through drastic changes to meet the new standards. Ships will need to use cleaner energy in the form of batteries, solar, wind and the not so popular, nuclear energy.
Many environmentalists groups have said that the new agreement is not urgent enough to fight climate change although they agree the deal is welcome as they have been fighting for it for decades. Greenhouse gas emissions from shipping and aviation were omitted from the 1997 Kyoto protocol and have been excluded from regulations on carbon ever since, even though shipping is used for 80% of global trade.
Supporters of more drastic cuts said a cut of at least 70% from shipping emissions by 2050, , would be needed to meet the aims of the 2015 Paris Agreement, in which countries have agreed that temperature rises should be limited to no more than 2 degrees Celsius.
John Maggs, president of the Clean Shipping Coalition and senior policy adviser at the campaigning group Seas at Risk, said: “We have an important agreement and this level of ambition will ultimately require a sector-wide shift to new fuels and propulsion technologies. But what happens next is crucial. The IMO must move swiftly to introduce measures that will cut emissions deeply and quickly in the short term – without these, the goals of the Paris agreement will remain out of reach.”
Countries holding out against a stronger agreement included Brazil, Panama, Saudi Arabia and the US, according to Bill Hemmings, shipping director at Transport & Environment. The European Union and many Pacific islands were among those pressing for a stronger deal.