A global framework for responsible ship chartering

The Sea Cargo Charter provides a framework for aligning chartering activities with responsible environmental behaviour to promote international shipping’s decarbonisation.


The Sea Cargo Charter is a global framework for assessing and disclosing the climate alignment of chartering activities of charterers and shipowners. It establishes a common, global baseline to quantitatively assess and disclose whether chartering activities are in line with internationally adopted climate goals. Thus, it also serves as an important tool to support responsible decision-making.

The Sea Cargo Charter has from its inception been opened to all charterers. Recognising the key role played by shipowners in the decarbonisation of shipping and the interest demonstrated by some for reporting under the same framework, the Sea Cargo Charter adapted its framework in 2024 to also allow for shipowners who do not necessarily charter-in vessels or wish to primarily report on their owned vessels to join. The Sea Cargo Charter therefore welcomes all charterers and shipowners of ships in the dry bulk and tanker trades. It is applicable to companies that occupy any position along the charterparty chain: charterers, sub-charterers, disponent owners, registered owners with commercial control. It must be applied by signatories in bulk chartering activities that are:

  • on time or voyage charters, including contracts of affreightment and parceling, with a mechanism to allocate emissions from ballast voyages,
  • for voyages carried out by dry bulk carriers, chemical tankers, oil (crude and product) tankers, and liquefied gas carriers,
  • and where a vessel or vessels are engaged in international trade (excluding inland waterway trade).

Since 1 January 2022, vessels under 5000 gross tonnage are also included. 

The Sea Cargo Charter is consistent with the policies and ambitions of the International Maritime Organization, a UN agency responsible for regulating shipping globally, including the 2023 IMO GHG Strategy (formally known as the 2023 IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships or Resolution MEPC.377(80)). This revised ambition states that emissions from international shipping should reach net-zero by or around 2050 compared to 2008 levels, with interim targets in 2030 and 2040, and considers full lifecycle emissions in a “well-to-wake” CO2e perspective.

Currently, 37 companies are signatories to the Sea Cargo Charter. Signatories are bulk cargo owners from a variety of segments – grains & agricultural products, chemicals, energy, metals & mining -, commodity traders and shipowners who have an interest in advancing good environmental stewardship through their business activities.

Signatories commit to implementing the Sea Cargo Charter in their internal policies, procedures, and standards and to work in partnership with their counterparts in the value chain and partners on an ongoing basis to implement the Sea Cargo Charter.

The Sea Cargo Charter is intended to evolve over time to include other issues where the collective influence of charterers and shipowners can help improve the contribution the industry and its charterers can make to society.


The Sea Cargo Charter is one of three initiatives based on the same four Principles and developed by the Global Maritime Forum with the shared aim to decarbonise shipping.

It all started with the Poseidon Principles for Financial Institutions – a global framework for responsible ship finance launched in June 2019. With 35 signatories now, this initiative currently represents around 80% of global ship finance.

The Sea Cargo Charter followed in October 2020. Read How did we get there to learn about the journey in more detail.

The most recent initiative was launched in December 2021. The Poseidon Principles for Marine Insurance gather a group of marine insurance institutions committed to aligning their portfolios with responsible environmental impacts.