Campaigners and the shipping industry have joined forces to call for a global deal on emissions from the sector, which could include raising funds for poor countries to tackle climate change.
Oxfam, WWF and the International Chamber of Shipping, which represents 80% of the world's merchant fleet, want negotiators at the latest round of UN climate talks to give industry body International Maritime Organisation (IMO) a clear signal to develop measures, such as a carbon levy on fuels, to help reduce emissions.
The organisations say any deal on shipping emissions should be global and reflect differences between rich and poor countries' responsibilities for cutting greenhouse gases.
The deal could include developing a "compensation mechanism" through which a significant share of any revenue raised by a levy on fuels could be directed towards developing countries to help them deal with global warming.
The money could be paid into the "green climate fund", which campaigners hope will be established at the UN talks in Durban over the next two weeks, to help poor countries cope with climate change and access clean technology.
The organisations have different ideas on how the shipping emissions scheme might work, but are united in calling for a strong signal on a deal to come out of the Durban talks.
Samantha Smith, leader of WWF's global climate and energy initiative, said: "We are very pleased that the shipping industry acknowledges its responsibility to play its part in further reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
"With around 3% of the world's total emissions, full participation of the shipping sector will help greatly towards keeping global warming below the 2C target agreed by governments. Putting a charge on carbon in the global shipping sector can have huge benefits in meeting our climate change objectives."
Tim Gore, Oxfam climate change policy adviser, said: "Industry and civil society actors agree that shipping emissions can be regulated in a way that is fair to developing countries and could help generate the resources they need to tackle climate change."
The International Chamber of Shipping's secretary general Peter Hinchliffe welcomed "the recognition ... that it is in the best interests of both the environment and developing nations for shipping to be regulated via our industry regulator". The organisation wants compensation payments used to help developing countries adapt to climate change and cut emissions.