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Decarbonisation action plan launched at COP27 to upskill seafarers

Decarbonisation action plan launched at COP27 to upskill seafarers

(Posted on 09/11/22)

A new Action Plan, launched at COP 27 by UN organizations, shipowners and unions, sets out recommendations to upskill seafarers to meet shipping’s decarbonisation goals. The plan is in response to findings from new research, the modelling of which cautions that as many as 800,000 seafarers will require additional training by the mid-2030s.

Currently accounting for 3% of global emissions, shipping needs to transition away from conventional fuels towards alternative low- and zero-carbon fuels and technologies to meet the world’s target of keeping global warming to 1.5C or less by 2050.

The three emission reduction scenarios assessed in the research highlight an immediate need to start putting the training infrastructure in place, to ensure hundreds of thousands of the world’s nearly two million seafarers are upskilled and empowered through the transition.

Findings also suggest that a lack of certainty on alternative fuel options is having knock-on effects for seafarer training, as the global maritime community works towards a clearer decarbonization pathway in a post-fossil fuel era.

The research was conducted by leading maritime consultancy DNV and commissioned by the Maritime Just Transition Task Force Secretariat. The Maritime Just Transition Task Force was formed to ensure that shipping’s response to the climate emergency puts seafarers and communities at the heart of the solution

In response to the training challenge that the modelling lays bare, the Action Plan makes recommendations for industry, governments, seafarer unions and academia (including training providers). These recommendations include:

  • Strengthening global training standards
  • Ensuring a health-and-safety-first approach
  • Establishing advisory national maritime skills councils

Sanda Ojiambo, Assistant Secretary-General and CEO of the UN Global Compact, said: “Climate action focused on people and job creation must be at the core of a Just Transition to Net Zero. This new paper highlights that aligning with a 1.5 C trajectory requires action now to support the upskilling of the maritime workforce as the shipping industry moves to rapidly cut its greenhouse gas emissions. The action-plan represents a global first - it marks the first business sector uniting in a tripartite framework - shipowners, seafarers’ unions and UN organisations - to discuss how to secure a Just Transition together.”

Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) said, “All three scenarios DNV identified require some form of retraining the workforce. The good news is that seafarers are prepared and willing to be part of this transition. But crew want to know that the fuels they’re handling are indeed safe, and that we as an industry have the training pathways established to upgrade their skills. Seafarers and other maritime workers are already feeling the effects of an unstable climate – dry unnavigable rivers, soaring ocean surface temperatures, shutdown ports with heatwaves and flash floods.”

Guy Platten, Secretary General, International Chamber of Shipping, said: “There is an urgent need to establish the infrastructure and training required to prepare our seafaring workforce, both in developed and developing countries, to help meet our decarbonisation objectives. This should be done as of today, so they are ready and able to meet the challenges that new green fuels and propulsion technologies will pose and mitigate any potential health and safety risks for ships, communities, the environment and seafarers themselves. This is an opportunity for all so that no-one is left behind. Shipping cannot decarbonise without its workers and the 10-point action plan developed by the Task Force maps out a pathway for how this can be achieved, as our industry continues to navigate towards a decarbonised future.”

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