Climate change activists could target ships for arrest if owners fail to live up to commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions, say prominent maritime lawyers.

With environmental-related litigation on the rise, pressure groups are likely to place the industry under ever-closer scrutiny after criticisms of the International Maritime Organization’s target of cutting greenhouse gases by at least 50% by 2050 compared with 2008 levels, according to experts at a seminar in London.

The lawyers said activists could target shipowners that have failed to make proper plans to cut emissions or have over-inflated claims about the steps they are taking.