A global framework for responsible ship chartering

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


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

The Sea Cargo Charter is applicable to all charterers: those with interest in the cargo on board; those who simply charter out the vessels they charter in; disponent owners; all charterers in a charterparty chain; companies involved in pools. It must be applied by Signatories in bulk ship chartering activities that are:

  • on time and 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).

Until 31 December 2021, vessels under 5000 gross tonnage are excluded. Starting from 1 January 2022, vessels under 5000 GT 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 its ambition for GHG emissions to peak as soon as possible and to reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008.

Currently, 36 charterers 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 ship owners, disponent owners, 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 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 decarbonize shipping.

It all started with the Poseidon Principles for Financial Institutions – a global framework for responsible ship finance launched in June 2019. With almost 30 Signatories now, this initiative currently represents around USD 185 billion in shipping 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.

All three initiatives are aligned with the IMO’s ambition for GHG emissions from international shipping to peak as soon as possible and to reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008. Furthermore, the Poseidon Principles for Marine Insurance have also chosen to take steps toward alignment with the Paris Agreement.