Green energy – the new job machine in air sea freight

The transition from fossil fuels to renewables will create millions of new jobs, according to a study carried out by the Global Maritime Forum. Its authors forecast that, by 2050, up to four million new jobs will have been created worldwide, through the development and use of green energy in maritime and port operations. Aviation, too, will generate many new jobs as it transitions from fossil fuels to green energy, says Glyn Hughes, Secretary General TIACA.

The figures are impressive. In its study entitled ‘Green Jobs and Decarbonization’, the Copenhagen-based Global Maritime Forum speaks of up to 640,000 new jobs that will be created in commercial shipping by 2030. Economies of scale, new technologies and stricter political requirements for CO2 reduction in maritime transport could lead to up to four million cumulative jobs across the energy supply chain. The authors also say where these jobs are likely to be created.

Decarbonization of the global maritime industry could create up to 4 million green jobs by 2050, claims the Global Maritime Forum in a release.

Many roads lead to Rome
Maritime decarbonization will ultimately be enabled through the use of low-carbon energy vectors (electricity and fuels) coupled with energy efficiency improvements. The fuel/energy categories cover a broad spectrum and include e-fuels, blue fuels, biofuels, electricity, and hydrogen. Different production pathways within each of these methods will impact the extent of job creation supported by investments in the development of different energy sources, feedstocks, and production facilities. This assumes that the entirety of shipping’s energy demand will be met by e-fuels, i.e. green hydrogen, green ammonia, and green methanol.

In the study, it is emphasized that the most significant contributor to overall job creation is the building up of renewable energy capacity, which creates jobs across three main markets: 1. Manufacturing (M), 2. Construction and Installation (C&I), 3. Operations and Maintenance (O&M).

These markets contribute to job creation on different scales, which can be determined in relation to the scale of investment (per million $) or generation capacity (per gigawatt).

Consequently, if shipping decarbonization aligns with IMO’s aim of achieving indicative checkpoints of 30% emissions reductions by 2030 and 80% by 2040, using e-ammonia produced from green hydrogen, then:

  • in the 2020s, between 0.5 and 1 million green jobs could be linked to renewable generation deployment for e-fuel production,
  • in the 2030s, there could be between 1.5 and 3 million renewables jobs. It is more likely to be the lower end of the range (1.5 million), as the deployment of renewables becomes more labor efficient.
There is still much work to do to reach the net zero target by 2050, notes TIACA’s Glyn Hughes. Photo: CFG/hs

Switching to green energy boosts economic development
The authors of the study point out that the assumed job creation will most likely happen in the 2030s, due to the enormous capital investments into infrastructure expected during that decade.

Stimulating the creation of these jobs will help many countries to transition away from fossil fuels in a way that provides opportunities to those workers negatively affected by the phasing-out of carbon-intensive industries. Supporting the development of new skills may also help countries build up the capacity needed to stimulate renewables and hydrogen production nationally. This could support wider decarbonization across other sectors and help countries develop national hydrogen economies, ultimately contributing to the increased localization of specific supply chains (e.g. steel, cement, and/or energy).

That said, the Maritime Forum study raises the question of how the aviation industry, and air freight in particular, views the development of renewables and the associated effect on employment. Who better to assess this, than Glyn Hughes, General Secretary TIACA and veteran of the cargo industry?

In his contribution, Glyn emphasizes that he fundamentally agrees with the Maritime Forum’s forecast evidenced by similar trends in aviation. “Whilst we enter a period of production ramp-up and transition, we will see some initial increase in the jobs sector. We are already seeing this in the R+D activities across all modes of transport.”

For aviation to achieve its net zero target by 2050, Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is likely to account for 60-65% of that target, estimates the TIACA official.

Considering that today, SAF only accounts for about 1% of total aviation fuel required, there is much work to be done, he urges. However, he also questions the investigative approach of the authors.

The employees affected must be taken care of, urges Mr. Hughes“The study refers to the significant new jobs, but doesn’t make any indications as to the jobs lost by moving away from traditional fuel/power source production and distribution. They do acknowledge within their study that these traditional industries will be impacted as fossil fuel usage will be phased out. So, I urge people to read such huge new job claims with a note of caution.”

At the same time, Glyn cites two studies that basically confirm the positive occupational effects, following the transition from carbon to green energy propulsion systems (sources below). “[It] will generate significant investment in R+D with consequential positive impact on the jobs sector as new solutions become operationalized. However, we must be mindful of the phase-out of traditional energy sector jobs, and should focus on the retraining and effective redeployment of affected workers into the new economy.”

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