Editorial: More ports need to get on the green wave

The Port of Vancouver could have a valuable new export to promote: green maritime initiatives.

The product, which has significant upside in a climate change world, needs to be imported by more ports around the world.

The International Transport Forum’s (ITF) recent report on the shipping sector’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has some good words to say about Canada’s largest port.

It also carries a cautionary message for other world ports and freight carriers about shipping’s GHGs.

Reducing Shipping Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Lessons from Port-Based Incentives notes that the sector accounts for 2.6% of global GHG emissions. But that percentage could more than triple by 2050 if changes in port and shipping company operations are not implemented now.

The International Maritime Organization has decreed that the shipping industry, whose vessels are major polluters, will begin addressing its air pollution issues by 2020 when ocean-going ships will be required to cut sulphur oxide emissions to 0.5%.

But ports can also play a major role in reducing shipping industry GHGs.

The Port of Vancouver is a leader here.

As the ITF report notes, Vancouver’s EcoAction program is “arguably the most comprehensive port financial incentive scheme … that not only combines a wide set of criteria, but also provides substantial reductions [of up to 47% in port fees].” The reductions recognize ships that meet voluntary best practices in reducing air and other pollution while in port.

The Port of Vancouver has also instituted incentives to reduce underwater noise from ships to lessen its impact on killer whale populations.

International recognition of the work being done locally to clean up a major source of industrial pollution globally is gratifying. But it warrants more than mention in an intergovernmental association’s report. It should receive local applause from industrial and environmental lobbyists and be adopted in ports all over North America and around the world.

Not many industrial initiatives created here qualify for that.