Seafarers are recognized for their key role in shipping’s greenhouse gas reduction strategy Ship’s crew

Seafarers’ unions have committed to a “just transition” for seafarers as part of the revised International Maritime Organization strategy to reduce greenhouse gases.

The new strategy, adopted earlier this month, includes updated targets to reduce emissions in the shipping sector, aiming to reach net-zero by 2050. Researchers estimate the strategy will require a reduction in pollution levels per ship of up to 60% by 2030 and 91% per ship by 2040.

The strategy also includes reviewing seafarers’ training and ensuring new zero-emission technologies are safe for workers and communities. The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has welcomed the move, which recognizes the importance of seafarers and their role in decarbonising shipping.

“This is a historic recognition by the IMO of the importance of seafarers and their health and safety needs,” said Dave Heindel, Chair of the ITF Seafarers’ Section. “With this revised strategy, the IMO says seafarers have a critical role to play in addressing the challenge of shipping to decarbonise.”

Just Transition is a policy that calls for treating workers and communities humanely in times of economic and technological change. It is a key tenet of global climate change policy and is defined by the International Labor Organization as “greening the economy in a way that is as fair and inclusive as possible for all stakeholders, creates decent work opportunities and leaves no one behind”.

“Dealing with the climate crisis essentially means engaging the workforce, a central pillar of the ‘human element’ that IMO has focused on in recent years. We are very pleased that the centrality of workers is explicitly recognized in this strategy, which will have far-reaching implications in the years to come,” added Heindel.

ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton stressed the importance of full implementation of the seafarers’ targets, as failure to do so could mean the shipping industry lags behind other transport sectors in terms of progress.

“The new goals show a heightened level of ambition, and we welcome that,” Cotton said. “But even these new targets fall short of the Paris Agreement and its temperature targets. Every sector needs to aim for Paris to make our jobs and our planet climate proof. It is therefore crucial that these new targets are fully achieved.”

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