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DSG/SM/1475
7 October 2020

Commending Launch of Sea Cargo Charter, Deputy Secretary-General Encourages Industry to Promote Cleaner, Greener Shipping, at Global Maritime Forum

Following are UN Deputy Secretary‑General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the occasion of the Global Maritime Forum’s virtual high‑level meeting, today:

It is a pleasure to address you today, at this crucial time.  I thank the Global Maritime Forum for organizing this meeting and for confronting our shared challenges head‑on.  During the next few days, you will discuss the impact of and solutions to the multiple crises we currently face.

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated lives and livelihoods.  Your industry has been among the hardest hit, with international shipping rates in some countries down by as much as 70 per cent.  The pandemic has significantly disrupted global supply chains, and also caused a humanitarian crisis, with as many as 300,000 seafarers currently trapped at sea due to crew change restrictions or entry restrictions.

I want to offer my sincere thanks today to all seafarers.  You are so essential to the functioning of our societies and economies, and your continuing work in very difficult times deserves all our gratitude.  I would also like to reiterate the Secretary‑General’s appeal to Governments to formally designate seafarers and other marine personnel as “key workers”.  It is essential to ensure safe crew changes and the repatriation of stranded workers, in accordance with international law and all relevant protocols.

Despite these enormous challenges, and although the long‑term effects of the pandemic on transport are hard to predict, the pandemic has provided both a need and an opportunity to rethink maritime transport.  And, this is what you are doing today.  You are preparing for the climate crisis, which has already reached our doorsteps everywhere.  As you respond, I urge you take into account not only the shifting global winds, such as changing demographics and trade patterns, but also the need for a whole‑of‑society approach that leaves no person and no country behind.

But, I am confident.  Your industry has a long history of evolving effectively.  As the saying goes:  we cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.  The importance of the maritime sector to the global economy, and to the health of our societies, is undisputed.  Around 80 per cent of global trade by volume and over 70 per cent of global trade by value is carried by sea and handled by ports worldwide.

Maritime transport is crucial to global supply chains, allowing for the provision of medical supplies, food and other basic goods that are critical for sustainable development and COVID‑19 response and recovery.  It is also a key pillar of global tourism and the blue economy, which represent a crucial source of income for many countries, supporting small enterprises and poverty reduction.

Clearly you are an industry of deep systemic importance on many fronts, and with that importance comes great responsibility.  There is perhaps no issue where this is truer than in confronting the global climate crisis.  The sheer size of the shipping industry makes it a key sector in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, which are set to rise by between 50 to 250 per cent by 2050 without greater climate action and ambition.  This is cause for great concern, as the world is still far off‑track to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement and averting the worst impacts of climate change.

Science tells us we must limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C by century’s end, however we are currently on track for at least 3°C.  Changing course will require deep cuts in emissions across all sectors of the global economy.  Your leadership and innovation are essential in the transition towards a net‑zero emissions global economy.

I am encouraged that you have already embarked on this journey.  At last year’s Climate Action Summit, your industry, under the leadership of the Global Maritime Forum, together with the World Economic Forum and Friends of Ocean Action, launched the ‘Getting to Zero Coalition’.  You have brought together more than 110 stakeholders from around the world, from companies to ports, spanning the maritime, energy, infrastructure and finance sectors.  In doing so, you have drawn on the support of key Governments who are committed to getting commercially viable zero‑emission vessels operating along deep‑sea trade routes by 2030.  I urge all attending today who have not yet joined this initiative to get on board as a matter of the highest priority.

The United Nations stands with you on this journey.  The Secretary‑General has asked all leaders to take six climate‑positive actions to recover better.  Invest in green jobs.  Do not bail out polluting industries.  End fossil fuel subsidies.  Take climate risks into account in all financial and policy decisions.  Work together, and, most important, leave no one behind.

The maritime industry can support this call by further strengthening the International Maritime Organization’s global targets, especially in the near term leading up to 2030, on cleaner and greener shipping, promoting decarbonization of shipping and improved energy efficiency, using increased digitalization and increasing efforts to ensure the sustainability and protection of the workforce.

As you launch the Sea Cargo Charter today and commit to transparent reporting of shipping emissions, you are taking action once again.  The industry’s ambition must be matched with country ambition.  We must reach net‑zero emissions by 2050, with 45 per cent cuts by 2030 from 2010 levels.

As a vital sector in national economies, your voices are essential in urging Governments to step up their climate ambition and put in place the policies that businesses need to speed up the transition from the grey to the green economy.  Several green hydrogen and ammonia projects and net‑zero emissions vessel concepts, in Chile, Denmark, Japan and Morocco, provide exciting proofs of concept and should be encouraged elsewhere.  We should also keep firmly in mind the vast commercial opportunities ahead – particularly for those who move strongly – as we decarbonize the global economy.  As the Secretary‑General’s Special Envoy on Climate Finance Mark Carney has noted recently, the shift to net‑zero represents the greatest commercial opportunity of our time.

Full speed ahead!  Your voice will be especially important at several key upcoming events to propel us forward, such as the five‑year anniversary of the Paris Agreement in December this year.  Next year, I also invite you to join the Ocean Conference and the second Global Sustainable Transport Conference – another crucial event.

The United Nations stands ready to work closely with all of you to chart a course through the current COVID‑19 crisis and the climate emergency.  By doing so, we can ensure we tackle not only the climate crisis, but all of the Sustainable Development Goals – for people, prosperity and planet.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.