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ESG in the Maritime Sector – the growing importance of ‘green’ jobs

The world’s biggest climate conference COP28, takes place this month in Dubai with the overall objective of agreeing on ways to address climate change issues such as rising global temperatures and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

It’s generally agreed that the maritime industry needs to undergo a transformative shift towards sustainable shipping. With globalisation driving an ever-increasing demand for maritime transport, the ecological impact of shipping has become a point of concern. The industry is actively exploring and adopting sustainable practices to minimise its carbon footprint and reduce pollution and the industry’s reliance on fossil fuels has contributed significantly to air and water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and the degradation of marine ecosystems.

Indeed, the objective of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) participation in COP28 is to show its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shipping as outlined in its strategy on the subject in June of this year. The aim is to reduce GHG emissions by 50% by 2050 (as compared to 2008). Biofuels, hydrogen, and ammonia are being explored as viable options to power ships, offering the potential for zero-emission maritime transport.

Even wind power is being considered with Cargill chartering a vessel powered only by wind and sailing from China to Brazil earlier this year.

As maritime people experts, we are starting to see an increase in shipping companies asking us to find people for jobs that incorporate some element of sustainability. Vessel performance analysts oversee and evaluate the performance of a ship and an increasingly important part of this role would be guidance on emissions.

Spinnaker’s Maritime HR Association which provides annual salary and bonus reports for the shipping sector introduced a new job family to the survey in 2023 which covers ‘sustainability’ positions and contains staff responsible for ESG matters.

Staff in these roles may be responsible for ensuring compliance with environmental and sustainability standards, analysing environmental-related legal procedures, or developing new initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of vessels. Staff may have to liaise with stakeholders and key contacts in the industry including universities, institutions and suppliers, and are required to stay up to date with the emerging trends and new legislation impacting the industry. Staff may have to support clients in reaching their respective ESG-related targets. Senior roles may also have strategy-related responsibilities.

In 2023, 30% of companies who participated in the salary survey provided data for this new job family with roles including Business Partner Sustainability & Decarbonization, and Energy Transition Insights Analyst. Although 30% of companies might sounds significant, in reality the total number of jobs this represents is just 158 and that’s out of a total of over 50,000 roles so just a 1/3 of a percent in real terms!

It’s clear that there is still some way to go and that sustainable shipping is not just an industry trend but a necessity for the health of our planet. As technology evolves and awareness grows, the shipping sector is making significant strides toward reducing its environmental impact. Embracing alternative fuels, investing in energy-efficient technologies, and adhering to stringent regulations are crucial steps in achieving a more sustainable maritime future. By navigating the waters of sustainability, the shipping industry can contribute to a cleaner, healthier planet while continuing to facilitate global trade and economic growth.

Article written by Helen McCaughran, Marketing Manager, Spinnaker

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