The European Union (EU) has agreed on the rules for climate-neutral shipping, with the adoption of the FuelEU Maritime initiative. Shipping will be covered by FuelEU Maritime regulations from 2025.


The main objective of the FuelEU maritime initiative, as a part of the EU’s Fit for 55 package, is to increase the demand for and consistent use of renewable and low-carbon fuels and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from the shipping sector, while ensuring the smooth operation of maritime traffic and avoiding distortions in the internal market. 

The FuelEU maritime initiative states that measures to ensure that the greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of fuels used by the shipping sector will gradually decrease over time, by 2 percent in 2025 to as much as 80 percent by 2050. Also included is an incentive regime to support the uptake of the so-called renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBO) with a high decarbonisation potential.

The is also a voluntary pooling mechanism, under which ships will be allowed to pool their compliance balance with one or more other ships, with the pool – as a whole - having to meet the greenhouse gas intensity limits on average. There will be time limited exceptions for the specific treatment of the outermost regions, small islands, and areas economically highly dependent on their connectivity.

Moreover, revenues generated from the regulation’s implementation should be used for projects in support of the maritime sector’s decarbonisation with an enhanced transparency mechanism.

“The new law will provide legal certainty for ship operators and fuel producers and help kick-start the large-scale production of sustainable maritime fuels, thus substantially delivering on our climate targets at European and global level,” said Raquel Sánchez Jiménez, Spanish minister of transport, mobility and urban agenda.

The shipping industry has already been busy adjusting to other EU regulations brought about to account and charge for emissions. The EU ETS scheme comes into effect from January 1, 2024.