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
SRI Advisory Board member and ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton 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.”