Green Shipping: Taking it Portside

Green Shipping: Taking it Portside

Ports play an important role in reducing the global carbon footprint of maritime shipping, says a new report by the International Transport Forum (ITF).

Greenhouse gas emissions from shipping currently represent around 2.6 percent of total global emissions. Without reduction measures, this share could more than triple by 2050.

The International Maritime Organization has set a target of reducing shipping CO2 emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050 compared to 2008 levels. To achieve this, the shipping industry needs to put stringent measures in place.

While the focus is naturally on the ships themselves, portside measures can significantly add to the environmental performance of shipping and the decarbonization of maritime transport, the ITF report says.

Today, 28 of the 100 world’s largest ports (by total cargo volume handled) offer incentives for environmentally friendly ships:

  • Some U.S. ports offer cost savings to ships that reduce speed when approaching the port.
  • The Panama Canal Authority provides priority slot allocation to greener ships.
  • Spain includes environmental incentives in the tender and license criteria for towage services provided at ports.
  • Shanghai has an emission-trading scheme that includes ports and domestic shipping.

However, green incentives typically apply to fewer than five percent of the ships calling at a port offering an incentive scheme. Only five ports use CO2 emissions as a substantial criterion for incentives.

Any incentives that ship owners currently have to order more efficient ships with lower emissions are a result of port-based incentives only to a small extent.

The report recommends to:

  • Acknowledge the important role of ports in mitigating shipping emissions.
  • Expand port-based incentives for low-emission ships.
  • Link port-based incentives to actual greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Move to a more harmonized application of green port fees.

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