for an environmentally sustainable maritime transport sector

For more information on what Cyprus
is doing please scroll down

Environmental sustainability

Global developments are accelerating the global energy transition and the maritime transport sector is now dealing with a challenge it will have to grapple with for decades. This will be a ‘transition’ that, if successful, will see shipping undergo a structural change – not only a transition from a reliance on commodity, fossil-based fuels to low and zero carbon alternatives, but in terms of the cargoes it carries, and in the very nature of the global economy it serves.

Shipping is experiencing increasing pressure to improve its environmental record. Having dramatically reduced its SOx levels in 2020, and with NOx legislation also intensifying, the IMO has an ambitious GHG-reduction strategy to reduce total GHG emissions from shipping by at least 50% (compared to 2008 levels) by 2050, while at the same time reducing the average carbon intensity (CO2 per tonne-mile) by at least 40% by 2030, and 70% before mid-century.

The pace of change has been rapid. This has been driven by a combination of steadily strengthening drivers: regulatory pressure; growing public, customer and stakeholder pressure as shipping emerges from years of relative obscurity. Pressure is also being applied by coalitions of shipping’s more progressive and influential voices, whether among charterers, through initiatives such as the Sea Cargo Charter or financiers and investors, through the Poseidon Principles.

Away from the spotlight, the technical efforts being undertaken to reduce shipping’s carbon emissions should not be overlooked. Shipping industry stakeholders appear willing to provide US$5 billion over ten years to further enhance an R&D decarbonisation initiative in shipping to spur the industry forwards.

Additionally, discussions on future fuels continues apace, and while solutions might be gaining traction, scale remains a challenge together with, the trade-offs that shipping will have to make in operational patterns and cargo capacity to handle fuels with differing and often more challenging characteristics.

As shipping, onboard and ashore, continues to be digitised and ships are decarbonising simultaneously, the ability to measure, report and verify a vast amount of data from a series of sensors and to monitor data points is business critical. If an efficient energy transition is to be successful, we must ensure continued competitiveness, if not an increase. In this context, the adoption of solutions based on a rigorous analysis and study of data requires and necessitates openness and transparency by all those involved.

What is Cyprus doing?

As an island State and maritime centre, Cyprus seeks to maximise the protection and sustainability of the environment at a coastal, regional, and global level.

As a leading flag state, which derives a significant part of the national revenue from both the shipping and tourism industries, Cyprus supports efforts in reducing GHG emissions from ships.

Cyprus believes that flag states are well positioned to encourage ship owners to invest in making sustainable and financially-beneficial choices which enable the green transformation and, simultaneously, safeguard competitiveness with no loss in continuity of the transport services offered.

Cyprus has always proactively and constructively participated in policy development on both an international and regional level. As a state with a large fleet and high level of technical expertise, Cyprus wants to contribute to this exercise in a meaningful way.

Global and EU level

Cyprus works hard within the IMO and at EU level to achieve a level playing-field and a fair working environment in maritime transport, by defining and implementing agreed and evidence-based rules and standards for competitive, safe, secure, efficient and sustainable shipping. Key legislation for the environment includes :

  • The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (the MARPOL Convention) and its six annexes
  • The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (the Ballast Water Management Convention)
  • The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (The Hong Kong Convention)
  • Regulation (EU) No. 1257/2013 on ship recycling
  • Regulation (EU) 2015/757 on the monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon dioxide emissions from maritime transport

Green incentives programme

The SDM offers a range of green incentives to reward vessels that demonstrate effective GHG emissions reductions. From January 2021, annual tonnage tax is reduced by up to 30% for each vessel that demonstrates proactive measures to reduce its environmental impact, ensuring shipowners are rewarded for sustainable shipping efforts.

European Green Deal

The ambitions of the European Green Deal require a net reduction of at least 55% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and climate-neutrality by 2050. The inclusion of maritime transport in its Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) is one of the proposed initiatives to achieve this.

  • The SDM organised the seminar “ETS in shipping: Elixir or Threat to Sustainability?” with the participation of regulators, shipowners and NGOs as a contribution to the public consultation process for the coming EU legislative proposal.

The main findings of the seminar are:

  • Shipping should have a meaningful contribution to climate change
  • It is uncertain as to what level an EU ETS will be effective in reducing GHGs from ships
  • As climate change knows no borders, and considering the international nature of shipping, the IMO seems to be the appropriate body to regulate the reduction of GHGs emissions from ships
  • The ETS should not encourage a modal backshift to less environmentally friendly modes of transport
  • Certainty is a vital element for the shipping sector’s operational sustainability. Therefore the EU ETS must:
  • •  Clearly specify the geographic scope of application
    •  Clearly define each entity’s obligation
    •  Allow the trading of reductions of GHGs within the sector
    •  Fund research and innovation in alternative fuels and carbon neutral technologies
  • Any scheme introduced by EU aiming at the reduction of GHG emissions from shipping must be compatible and scalable to what the IMO might introduce in the future.

Ship Recycling

Every year, ships are dismantled in place where the environmental and social conditions leave much to be desired. The EU’s Ship Recycling Regulation is setting the conditions under which ships which fly the flag of EU member States are to be recycle and provides among others:

  • Requirements for ships and recycling facilities to ensure that process takes place in an environmentally safe and sound manner
  • Restrict or prohibit the installation and use of hazardous materials on ships, such as asbestos or ozone-depleting substances
  • Establish a European list of ship recycling facilities
  • Implement, at EU level, certain parts of the Hog Kong Convention.

On a regional and coastal level

As part of the green transformation, efforts are being made to protect the Mediterranean region from emissions from ships and to designate the whole Mediterranean Sea as Med SOx Emission Control Area. This acknowledges the importance of protecting the environment as well as the health of people living in the Mediterranean coastal region, and will lead to substantial benefits for human health, environment and especially air quality.

The SDM, in close cooperation with other authorities, carries out inspections of all vessels with the aim of protecting our waters and coastline from any pollution, waste and illegal discharges, for example oil, garbage, sewage etc.

  • Every summer, a weekly ‘Blue Campaign’ has been established, which sees the SDM’s Anti-Pollution Unit participating in with unscheduled inspections
  • The SDM participates in the annual multinational “NEMESIS” exercise, which addresses incidents of marine pollution in the wider maritime area of offshore installations within Cyprus EEZ
  • In cooperation with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), the SDM organises regular exercises to support their network of anti-pollution vessels in the seas of the Republic of Cyprus.


We want to co-create our long-term maritime strategy with you. Please share with us any ideas, comments, and suggestions that you have. Potential questions that you may wish to respond to include:

As a leading advocate for sustainable shipping and one that has an active role and voice at regional and global level, how could Cyprus contribute further to the green transformation?

There is a clear need to intensify efforts to come up with a basket of measures, both regulatory and non-regulatory. What could be an effective balance that will serve both objectives notably the maritime transport sector to have a meaningful contribution towards the reduction of climate change while maintaining its competitiveness?

How can digitalisation accelerate the pathway to decarbonisation?

Ηow will the maritime transport sector be impacted if the Mediterranean Sea is declared (a) as a Med SOx Emission Control Area – SECA (b) as a combined SOx and NOx Emission Control Area – ECA?

What additional measures are needed to ensure ethical and environmentally-sound ship recycling?

Please feel free to share any thoughts on efforts to realise
a more sustainable future for maritime transport.