GMF: Decarbonization could create up to four million green jobs by 2050, double the number of seafarers

The maritime sector’s transition to e-fuels could support up to four million new green jobs by 2050, double the number of seafarers serving globally today, a new study shows.

The new analysis is commissioned by the Global Maritime Forum (GMF) and conducted by engineering and sustainable development consultancy Arup.

The shipping industry is currently responsible for 3% of global CO2 emissions. As the backbone of the global economy, responsible for 80% of global trade, the industry has faced enormous pressure to rapidly decarbonize.

In 2023, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) member states agreed to an end date to fossil fuel consumption “by or around” 2050.

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Achieving this target will require large volumes of scalable zero-emission fuels, a significant share of which will be e-fuels based on hydrogen, according to GMF.

Projections show that shipping’s demand for e-fuels could rapidly scale to over 500 million tonnes by 2040, rising to 600 million tonnes by 2050. Meeting such demand could require an additional 2TW of renewable energy generation capacity, and 1TW of hydrogen production capacity by 2050, the report suggest.

In this scenario, up to £3.2 trillion ($4 trillion) of investment is required to support the development of renewable infrastructure, hydrogen production, and fuel production facilities for e-ammonia for shipping.

 “This research marks a critical first step in exploring the fundamental role maritime decarbonisation will play in the creation of green jobs within the energy sector. The analysis demonstrates the sheer scale of the potential to create large numbers of highly-skilled green jobs, in this instance driven by a single fuel. Many of these jobs will also be transferable to other sectors – supporting further decarbonisation beyond shipping,” Jesse Fahnestock, Director of Decarbonisation at Global Maritime Forum, said.

Investments in e-fuels to support green jobs across the supply chain

According to the report, the new capital investment will have a dramatic impact on the creation of green jobs across the supply chain. It also has the potential to create immense benefits to the wider economy, furthering climate action, while also supporting the development of renewable energy projects and the uptake of green hydrogen across other sectors.

Job creation will be seen across the three main phases of the supply chain: renewable energy generation, hydrogen production and e-fuel production.

The report informs that job numbers are likely to be smaller in the 2020s and ultimately reduce in the 2040s, as capital investment reduces. A large proportion of these jobs, however, will be transferable to other sectors and will ultimately support the development of wider renewable energy capacity; aiding decarbonization efforts across other sectors.

“The creation of new green jobs can help address economic inequalities between the Global North and Global South. However, green jobs must also be good jobs, with decent working conditions, labour rights, and a strong voice for workers,” Jeremy Anderson, Director of Just Transition and Sustainable Transport at International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), said.

As trillions of capital investment get funneled into green fuels for the maritime sector, stimulating the creation of green jobs can help countries transition away from fossil fuels, while also providing a direct, quantifiable contribution to a country’s economy.

Investments in the Global South in particular, where climate provides the greatest conditions for e-fuel production, have shown to contribute significantly toward higher job creation, relative to an equivalent investment in a country in the Global North. This suggests a higher potential for developing countries to leverage investments towards wider green job creation.

“The huge levels of investment will impact all corners of the globe, helping many countries around the world provide opportunities to workers negatively affected by the transition away from more carbon-intensive industries. It’s vital that we further explore the different geographic implications, particularly in the Global South, to ensure we can unlock the enormous potential for economic growth across nations,” Connor Bingham, Project Manager at Global Maritime Forum and report author, said.

A recent study commissioned by the Maritime Just Transition Task Force found that up to 800,000 seafarers could require additional training to handle alternative fuels and technologies by the mid-2030s.

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