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Seafarers not forgotten at COP26


Crew’s involvement is instrumental in achieving climate targets

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) flagged the importance of seafarers’ knowledge in the industry’s journey to achieve climate targets.

Seafarers’ role in climate targets
Achieving climate targets would certainly include seafarers’ contributions – specially on the bunkering part. In its position paper released ahead of the COP26 summit, the ITF said there are currently more than 50,000 cargo ships in the oceans, the majority of which run on low-grade, heavy ‘bunker’ fuel. These ships emit as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as countries such as Germany and Japan.

International shipping has not been explicitly included in the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement or its predecessors. The Paris Agreement aims to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C by 2050. To align international shipping with the Agreement, the ITF is calling for the industry and regulators to commit to a target of zero-carbon by 2050.

Stephen Cotton, the ITF’s General Secretary said, “People who work at sea witnessed the impacts of climate change every day, and are extremely concerned their industry is not acting quickly enough. Huge changes are needed swiftly to shift the shipping industry away from fossil fuels. Seafarers have the passion, knowledge and ideas to help move the industry to a carbon-free future. The decisions made by leaders over the coming weeks at COP26 would be crucial in preventing irreversible climate change. We deserve a planet that is safe to live on.”

David Heindel, ITF Seafarers’ Section Chair and the Federation’s Sustainable Shipping Working Group Chair, seconded, “Seafarers want to be part of the solution. We want to lead the transition and be proud of the actions taken by our industry. Seafarers must be at the table from the outset, if we are to deliver sustainable shipping for future generations. The industry would be well-advised to draw on crew’s experience and expertise. That way, plans for achieving zero-carbon emissions can happen quickly, safely and fairly.”

ITF’s paper cautioned that switching from carbon heavy bunker fuel to new energy sources such as hydrogen or ammonia can be dangerous for seafarers. Safety must be carefully thought through. Seafarers must receive adequate training. Changes such as the introduction of new technology must not be used as an excuse to reduce crew onboard or affect jobs and conditions. In fact, the paper is confident that the transition could lead to more employment. It is an opportunity to encourage more women and young people to take up seafaring.


Crewing Online News Team
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