Decarbonization on center stage at Global Maritime Forum summit

Written by Nick Blenkey
Global Mzritome Foreum participants

Image: Global Maritime Forum

Shipping decarbonization has been very much in focus in the run up to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), being held in Glasgow, October 31-November 12.

Ahead of the conference, the Getting to Zero Coalition delivered a Call to Action for Shipping Decarbonization, urging world leaders to take action to align shipping with the Paris Agreement temperature goal to the U.K. Presidency of COP26. The Call to Action is backed by more than 200 industry leaders and organizations representing the entire maritime value chain. Specifically, the signatories call on government to:

  • Support industrial scale zero emission shipping projects through national action
  • Deliver policy measures that will make zero emission shipping the default choice by 2030

The Getting to Zero Coalition is a partnership between the Global Maritime Forum, the World Economic Forum and Friends of Ocean Action and presentation of its Call to Action was a prelude to the Global Maritime Forum’s two-day Annual Summit in London, which concluded yesterday.

Urgent action to deploy scalable zero emission shipping fuels and technologies and increased attention to a wider set of ESG topics in the maritime industry was at the center of discussions/

To fully decarbonize international shipping, participants repeatedly stressed the importance of regulation adopted at the IMO. Industry engagement with IMO member states was highlighted as an action area. This must include exploration of how the private sector can contribute to making the transition just and equitable, for instance through technology cooperation and capacity development, training and upskilling seafarers, and investing in zero emission fuel production. Other action items included accelerating emission reductions in the short term, advancing green corridors, and aggregating demand.

“My message to governments and regulators is simple,” said Peter Stokes, Chairman, Global Maritime Forum. “We know what is needed—we need your support. Let’s work together to move from good intention to actions with impact. And let us start by making COP26 and the upcoming MEPC 77 a watershed moment that will set the course for a just and equitable transition to zero emission shipping by 2050,”
Industry leaders at the Summit shared an optimistic view on the route to 2025:


Participants in the summit pointed to the critically important role of seafarers to the long-term stability of global value chains, with attracting and retaining seafarers across the industry being essential in a post-pandemic reality where the industry needs to expand the talent pool by becoming more diverse, equitable and inclusive:

“This clean and green future for the industry is going to need to be delivered by a skilled, dedicated and diverse workforce. The industry is growing and changing. We need to ensure that we are drawing from the full talent pool because we have the people and we have to make sure we have the skills we need as well,” said Robert Courts, UK Minister for Aviation, Maritime & Security in his remarks at the Annual Forum.


The challenges and opportunities linked to the maritime sector’s ESG performance were another important focus area in the discussions. Participants pointed to the need for more transparency, especially related to its ESG performance, in order for the sector to retain its license to operate in the future. Participants at the Annual Summit also discussed shipping’s circular economy, suggesting to throw away the throwaway mentality. They further articulated an opportunity to communicate more clearly on the positive impact the global maritime industry can have on environmental, social and governance issues.

“The past two days have demonstrated the readiness of leaders from our community to collaborate and drive progress across the maritime spectrum. There is real opportunity for change right now and a clear invitation for other stakeholders to join us in solving our shared challenges going into COP26 and beyond,” said Johannah Christensen, CEO at the Global Maritime Forum.

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