Decarbonize Shipping by 2050

The UN Global Compact Ocean Stewardship Coalition work on sustainable shipping has the primary focus of advancing a people-centered, Just Transition to a green shipping industry. 

Industry State of Play

Carrying more than 80% of the global trade, international shipping accounts for 3% of global GHG emissions. In July 2023, governments from around the world came together at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London to adopt a Revised GHG Strategy. Prior to the negotiations, the industry had been pushing for clear, ambitious policy frameworks to send a strong market signal for zero-carbon fuels and technologies. The Revised IMO GHG Strategy sets out that the shipping industry is to reach net zero emissions by ‘close to’ 2050, with interim targets (indicative checkpoints) of up to 30% reduction of GHG emissions by 2030, and up to 80% by 2040. The shipping industry will be a large offtaker of alternative fuels to meet those targets.

The measures - including economic (e.g. a carbon levy) and technical -  to implement the strategy and shipping’s decarbonization are set to be agreed upon by the end of 2025 and implemented in 2027. In the interim period and pre-diffusion phase -  pilot projects, demonstrators and cross-value chain collaborations such as Green Corridors and SBTi will play a vital role as initial enablers - especially to support the target of at least 5% zero emission fuels whilst striving for 10% in the global fleet by 2030. The revised IMO GHG Strategy also envisions a ‘just and equitable transition’ - including the need to upskill and support seafarers and Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States

Maritime Just Transition Task Force

The Task Force is an unprecedented initiative, set up during COP 26 in Glasgow, alongside the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), to ensure that shipping’s response to the climate emergency puts seafarers at the heart of the solution. It is the first global sectoral task force dedicated to a ‘Just Transition’ and seeks to strengthen and coordinate collaboration between governments, industry, workers, academia – and their representatives – towards a safe, equitable and human-centered approach to the transition towards a decarbonised shipping industry.

The Task Force is supported by a ‘Global Industry Peer Learning Group’ comprising of international organizations, private companies, workers and academia. This international group serves as a platform for these global partners to engage in strategic dialogue around the main themes of Just Transition, share best practice and exchange with peers. The first phase of the Task Force included the publication of a DNV report providing “Insights into seafarer training and skills needed to support a decarbonized shipping industry” as well as a ‘10-point action plan’ to achieve a Just Transition for Seafarers. 

The Task Force is now working towards the second phase which will focus on the implementation of key aspects from the 10-point action plan, including the three following key priority areas:

  1. Development of baseline decarbonisation training framework for seafarers.
  2. Development of a comprehensive global recruitment and retention strategy for the maritime industry. 
  3. Development of pilot projects and a blueprint to serve as a template for national-level advisory bodies to advise on training, skills, and other policy areas, as necessary

Just Transition and Green Corridors

In addition to the work of the Maritime Just Transition Task Force, the Coalition is also engaging with partners to unpack how a Just Transition can be ensured in the context of Green Shipping Corridors. In collaboration with the Maersk McKinney Møller Centre for Zero Carbon Shipping and the Sustainable Shipping Initiative, the Coalition is working on a “Just Transition and Green Corridor toolkit”, which will contain actionable recommendations for green corridor actors on how to ensure that the scaling-up of zero emission fuels and related infrastructure for green corridors brings no risks to people, communities, consumers and the wider country, as well as maximizes opportunities.

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