The world is facing a climate emergency. Urgent action is needed to limit global warming to 1.5ºC or we will face disastrous consequences. Responsible for transporting 90% of global trade and supplying the world with food, fuel, medicines and goods, the global shipping industry accounts for 3% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. After a long history of wind, coal and oil-fuelled ships, a fourth propulsion revolution, requiring over $1 trillion in investments, is now underway for shipping to shift away from conventional ‘bunker’ fuels and transition towards alternative low- and zero-carbon fuels and technologies, in order to reach zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.
About the Task Force
The ‘Maritime Just Transition Task Force’ is an unprecedented initiative, set up during COP 26 in Glasgow, by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), 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, supported by globally established Just Transition principles.
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-centred approach to the transition towards a decarbonised shipping industry.
A Just Transition is a people-centred response to addressing the climate emergency. According to the ILO, this means greening the economy in a way that is as fair and inclusive as possible, creating decent work opportunities.
Task Force Strategic Engagement Framework
The Task Force is supported by a ‘Global Industry Peer Learning Group’ (GIPLG), comprising representatives from international organisations, private companies, workers and academia (including training providers). This international collaborative group serves as a platform for these global partners to engage in strategic dialogue around the main themes of Maritime Just Transition, complementary to shipping’s decarbonisation agenda and part of the wider international community’s “transition to a green economy”. Representatives from ICS, ITF and the UN Global Compact serve as the Task Force Secretariat, facilitating the meetings of the Group. A list of GIPLG members can be accessed here.
Task Force Partners
Several project supporters and programme partners kindly offer financial support and in-house contributions to the work of the Global Peer Learning Group. The Task Force is also grateful to its knowledge partners, and to its primary funder, Lloyd’s Register Foundation.
Phase 1: Mapping a Maritime Just Transition for Seafarers
The world’s nearly 2 million seafarers are key to powering this industry through a successful transition to net zero. Seafarers will need adequate skills, education, and training, to operate new technology systems on board and to manage new fuels, such as ammonia and hydrogen, which unless properly handled could represent a significant health and safety risk for seafarers, ships, the environment and communities.
With future alternative fuel technologies, such as renewable e-fuels, biofuels and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage, expected to introduce new training requirements for seafarers, the Task Force Secretariat (ICS, ITF and UN Global Compact) commissioned a major report from classification Society ‘DNV’, to explore how best to support seafarers during the transition and to provide an overview of the challenges that training seafarers throughout the transition will entail.
The report, which provides “Insights into seafarer training and skills needed to support a decarbonized shipping industry”, models three emission reduction scenarios to estimate the number of seafarers requiring additional training to handle alternative fuels up to 2050. All three scenarios highlight an immediate need to start putting the seafarer training infrastructure in place.
The report concluded that a lack of clarity about viability and uptake of alternative fuel options, as well as uncertainty surrounding regulatory developments and financing, is making it difficult to plan effectively for the transition of the maritime workforce and to attract investment towards new skills programmes, compatible with the industry’s needs for a decarbonised future.
Informed by the findings of the DNV report, the Maritime Just Transition Task Force Secretariat (in consultation with other Task Force Members, IMO and ILO) developed a forward looking 10-point-action plan for international organizations, industry, workers and academia (including training providers), setting out concrete recommendations to unlock the seafarer skills needed to support shipping’s decarbonisation goals. The position paper on ‘Mapping a Maritime Just Transition for Seafarers’ can be accessed here.