Shipping and climate change

Shipping and climate change

By Dr Jackie Watts - Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network

The media is awash with the politics of COP26. However, Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network (MMHN) views a “sideline” event of COP26 as more important than mere politics.

Few are aware that this “sideline” event Shaping the Future of Shipping will be the largest ever global gathering of corporate shipping and maritime states.

Shipping is an immeasurably critical element in the world’s economy – and climate action is inextricably tied to shipping. CEOs of the largest shipping companies in the world, climate representatives and maritime ministers will meet to identify actions and recommendations for all leaders at COP26 and the International Maritime Organisation.

Shipping should be acknowledged as the backbone of the global economy. This has never been more apparent than now amid the pandemic and rising global political tensions. As world leaders look to a green future, they must eliminate the political risk around decarbonisation policies. This starts with the energy transitions which underpin global trade. Maritime enthusiasts regard CO26 outcomes for global shipping as critically important to address Australia’s increasingly acute supply chain vulnerability, the humanitarian crisis for seafarers – and the climate crisis on this planet.

Maritime flags symbolise much in the world of shipping and seafarers. MMHN commends the advocacy being undertaken by Offshore & Specialist Ships Australia (OSSA) through the Red Ensign Initiative. Its objective is to have the Merchant Navy flag prominently flown on Merchant Navy Day on September 3 each year. And in these pandemic times the plight of the Merchant Navy is so dire – stranded and unwell while continuing to supply the world with essential goods like fuel, food and pharmaceuticals. You may wish to support flying the Red Ensign. There is enough time make progress in Docklands before September 2022. Interested Docklanders are invited to share their thoughts on this by emailing [email protected].

History shapes our identities, engages us as citizens, creates inclusive communities, is part of our economic wellbeing, teaches us to think critically and creatively, inspires leaders and is the foundation of our future generations. MMHN’s strong advocacy for history has been recognised by the History Council of Victoria with the announcement on October 21 that MMHN was shortlisted for the inaugural Jane Hansen Prize for history advocacy. As the only organisation to receive such recognition, MMHN is honoured. MMHN was established as a network through which to endorse the value of history. Studying our past and telling our stories is critical to our sense of belonging, to our communities and to our shared future. Click here.

From the historical perspective, the evolution of “modern” Melbourne is enmeshed in Docklands – from the early maritime trade along the banks of the Yarra, to the ambitious reshaping the river, draining the Blue Lake (swamp, lagoon) and excavation of Victoria Harbour, the Docklands Precinct is at the very “heart” of Melbourne. However, regrettably the struggle continues to induce all responsible authorities – local and state – to enable and enhance connections between Docklands and the CBD. Yet the recent Ministerial and Council approval of twin towers on the east of Harbour Esplanade at La Trobe St will further threaten entrenching the actual and visual segregation of Victoria Harbour and the CBD, forming a continuous “curtain wall” of tall towers between the waterways and the city. As the twin towers project unfolds, let’s hope those making the decisions concentrate their efforts on strengthening the “connection” and on optimising the value of our magnificent, yet undervalued and poorly developed, waterways “asset” so close, and yet so far, from the CBD.

We have a magnificent opportunity to capitalise on Victoria Harbour’s unique qualities as an aquatic amphitheatre – the likes of which would be celebrated, not ignored, in comparable international port cities. We encourage all decision-makers to recognise the immense economic potential of Melbourne’s valuable waterways and ensure that such public assets are not marred by unsympathetic new developments which may overshadow the waters •

Join Our Facebook Group