Photo: ICS

COP26: new task force to support seafarers through green transition

A Just Transition Maritime Task Force has been formed at COP26 to drive decarbonisation of the industry and support millions of seafarers through shipping’s green transition.

As informed, the task force will push forward shipping’s climate goals while protecting its works and their communities, ensuring opportunity for all.

It will focus on the development of new green skills and green and decent work, identifying best practice across the value chain and providing policy recommendations for an equitable transition – with a specific focus on developing economies.

The task force was agreed during high-level discussions at COP26, including in discussions with the shipping lead, UN climate champions team, whose founding members include the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), representing shipowners, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), representing seafarers and port workers, and the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative.

Other influential UN organisations including the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will join the task force as formal partners.

“We are all about to face the single largest transition in modern times, and all of us will be affected,” Guy Platten, Secretary-General at ICS, said.

“Many of our seafarers come from developing nations, who are witnessing first-hand the effects of climate change. We must ensure they are given the green skills they need to keep global trade moving, and that developing nations can have access to the technologies and infrastructure to be part of shipping’s green transition.”

task force
Photo: ICS

The world’s largest economies reiterated the importance of Just Transition this week as 30 nations committed to strategies ensuring that workers, businesses and communities are supported as countries transition to greener economies. Global shipping is responsible for the movement of 90% of world trade and currently accounts for nearly 3% of global GHG emissions.

There are over 1.4 million seafarers globally, with the majority of this workforce originating from emerging economies.

“This task force will give international shipping the opportunity to lead the transformation of transport. We welcome the commitment from all partners, from industry and the UN agencies, to tackle this challenge collaboratively with workers and their unions,” Stephen Cotton, ITF General Secretary, commented.

“We know that seafarers’ expertise will lead shipping’s green transformation, and we look forward to working in the task force to push forward concrete, tangible solutions to decarbonise the sector in a worker-led just transition.”

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The move is said to represent the first of its kind for shipping and will provide clear leadership and steer for the industry to coordinate efforts and work with governments, industry, workers and their representatives to ensure a people-centred transition for the maritime industry.

“The task force represents the best of sectoral social dialogue. It echoes the tripartite approach set out in the ILO’s 2015 Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all, taking a human-centred approach to achieving green shipping,” Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, noted.

A meeting is expected to take place in December to begin setting up the practical next steps for the Just Transition Task Force.