The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), part of the International Maritime Organisation, has agreed to take steps to minimise greenhouse gases (GHGs) from international shipping fleets.
The group has put together a series of measures which are to be used on a trial basis until the committee meets again to finalise its ideas next March.
The measures include guidelines on the method of calculation and voluntary verification of the energy efficiency of new ships.
The group will also look at the fuel efficiency of older ships, the MEPC said.
The outcome of the MEPC on GHG guidelines will be considered once new climate change goals are agreed at global talks in Copenhagen which will act as a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.