Ports’ role in decarbonising the maritime value chain

By Paul Martin, Maritime Director, ABL London, IUMI Professional Partner, supported by Prahlad Rajhans, Assistance to ABL Ports & Harbours Dpt.

Ports are an integral part of the shipping value chain, and the nature of their operations makes them a contributor of emissions, both direct and indirect. Air pollutants such as sulphur oxides and particulate matter have an immediate detrimental effect on public health and local environmental ecosystems, whereas greenhouse gases (GHG) such as CO2, methane and nitrous oxides, have a long-term impact on the environment and are responsible for global warming.

The Clydebank Declaration for green shipping corridors[1],[2] – an outcome of COP26 – aims to establish at least six green corridors by the middle of this decade, which cannot happen without the active participation of ports. This comes on the back of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC)’s 74th session in May 2019[3] inviting ports to voluntarily contribute to reducing GHG emissions as part of the IMO GHG strategy[4]. A recent partnership between the GreenVoyage 2050 Project, executed by IMO, and International Association of Ports and Harbour (IAPH)[5] also aims to strengthen the cooperation between ships and ports to reduce GHG emissions. This partnership seeks to support countries through the development of tools for ports to become cleaner and greener.

Whilst green corridors will help ships to decarbonise, the ports themselves are responsible for emissions such as from harbour craft, pleasure craft, fishing vessels, cargo-handling equipment, on-road vehicles, and buildings.

The first step in tackling port emissions is to understand what they are. Producing an inventory, will allow a port to identify sources of emissions and to focus efforts on tackling the worst. Once a record of historical data is established, visual representations of the data can assist to showcase reduction efforts of the port, and to inform capex expenditure going forward.

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