Transitioning to Low Carbon Sea Transport

Project description

Title: Transitioning to Low Carbon Sea Transport
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK)
Countries: Republic of the Marshall Islands
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Transport, Communication and Infrastructure, Republic of the Marshall Islands
Overall term: 2017 to 2023



The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) relies on maritime transport for economic activity, connectivity and resilience. Connectivity, especially for the remote islands and atolls, is vital for access to services and socioeconomic opportunities for citizens. Sea transport also ensures the delivery of education, health care, environmental and economic development, and plays a role in responding to climate change impacts.

As RMI is almost entirely dependent on imported fossil fuels, the costs of such services are high and a heavy burden on national and household budgets. Shifting to renewable energy sources could help reduce this burden and would support more inclusive and sustainable economic growth for the country.

RMI is a world leader in advocating for action on climate change and the only country to explicitly include domestic sea transport in its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). In December 2020, the country set the goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from domestic shipping by 40 per cent by 2030. Levels of comparison were those of 2010. Full decarbonisation is to be achieved by 2050.


Domestic sea transport in the Marshall Islands is reducing carbon emissions and transitioning to energy-efficient maritime transport.



By making RMI’s sea transport greener and raising energy efficiency, the project is helping the country achieve its Nationally Determined Contribution. Ultimately, this will reduce transport costs and benefit public agencies, private companies and the people of RMI.

The project introduces a wide range of climate-friendly solutions. One of these is developing and pilot-testing low-carbon propulsion technologies in cooperation with partners. Other steps are educating and training ship crews and researchers, as well as using modern energy-efficient sailing technologies and renewable energy. The project takes a two-phase approach. Firstly, it works with partners to assess the fleet’s economic efficiency and emissions. The baseline data from this is to be used to develop and analyse various low-carbon propulsion technologies for all shipping needs.

Secondly, it is designing and building a ship with the selected propulsion technologies and having it tested by the Marshall Islands Shipping Corporation (MISC). In parallel to these activities, the project also provides policy support to the RMI Government throughout the project term. This comes to bear in climate negotiations at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and others.

Data collection essentially concentrates on the use of state-owned cargo vessels, their fuel consumption and level of emissions. The outputs of the project will be shared with other Pacific island countries and countries in other parts of the world.



Two boatbuilding workshop were successfully conducted with 13 Marshallese trained in traditional canoe building skills and energy efficient technology introducing cost efficient and sustainable boatbuilding methods.

Funding for a trial electrical propulsion kit was acquired.

Two sailing trainings were conducted on the cargo Sailing Vessel Kwai with more than 50 participants from the MISC.

The government of the Marshall Islands has purchased their first sailing cargo vessel for the domestic fleet to service national waters.

In 2018 the project supported the Marshallese government to organise and facilitate the first Virtual Summit of the Climate Vulnerable Forum. Its aim is to work towards effective cooperation among nations most vulnerable to climate change.

Together with Independent Diplomat, the project supports the RMI Government in actively participating at high-level policy negotiations and conferences such as the High Ambition Coalition and the IMO.

Update: May 2021

Additional information

Additional information