The issue

Air emissions from ocean-going shipping have negative effects on human health and the natural environment. A recent study has shown that ship-related global health impacts include approximately 137,000 premature deaths from lung cancer and cardiovascular disease and around 7 million childhood asthma cases annually. The same study estimates that lower sulphur fuels in shipping will significantly reduce both these numbers. We support regulation which will significantly reduce these, such as the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) 0.5% global cap on the content of sulphur dioxide (SOx) in fuels, which came into effect at the turn of the year from 2019 to 2020. We have been supportive of this legislation since it was established in 2008.

But, without a level playing field in terms of compliance and the enforcement of regulation, the competitiveness and profitability of compliant companies will be hurt. 

To enable enforcement of the global cap, the IMO in 2018 decided on a carriage ban for non-compliant fuels on board vessels. Vessels with scrubbers cleaning the exhaust gasses installed are exempted from this ban. OECD estimates the cost of switching to new, compliant fuels at up to USD 15 billion per year for the container shipping industry. Our own estimation is around USD 2 billion annually for A.P. Moller - Maersk alone.

What we do


We comply with regulatory demands and report on cases of non-compliance annually in the sustainability report.

We prepared for the 2020 global cap, by: 

  • Secured sufficient supply of compliant 2020 low-sulphur fuels
  • Planned for timely fuel-switch and installation of scrubbers on a small share of our vessels, as well as alignment with the owners of chartered vessels 
  • Carrying out extensive dialogue with customers to adjust our pricing models to recover some of the additional fuel costs monitored regulatory changes, had dialogue with authorities and the IMO to ensure effective enforcement while clarifying regulatory questions.


IMO legislation exists to achieve progressive reductions in NOx emissions from ships. It is being implemented through the establishment of NOx emission control areas (NECAs). A.P. Moller - Maersk is preparing for the 2021 enforcement of NECAs in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea.

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