Tuesday, May 8, 2012

LA Port Ratifies Clean Ship Incentives

The Port of Los Angeles has become the first North American seaport to adopt an international clean air program that rewards ocean carriers for bringing their newest and cleanest vessels to the port.

On May 3, the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners formally approved an Environmental Ship Index program. The ESI is a web-based tool that offers immediate and significant clean air benefits by rewarding vessel operators for voluntary engine, fuel and technology enhancements that reduce emissions from ships beyond the regulatory environmental standards set by the International Maritime Organization.

Initially, up to 30 percent of the ships calling at the port are expected to qualify for LA’s ESI incentives, according to the port. Thirty percent participation would cut diesel particulate matter emissions by 16 tons within the first year and reduce emissions of other primary pollutants, namely nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and carbon dioxide, according to the port.

The ESI program was originally developed by the World Ports Climate Initiative, a project of the International Association of Ports and Harbors. The program’s already underway at 14 European ports.

POLA Executive Director Geraldine Knatz, who chairs the WPCI and is the current president of the IAPH, pushed for L.A. to adopt the index program.

Like other WPCI programs aimed at reducing vessel pollution and greenhouse gases and promoting sustainable practices, the ESI can be tailored to fit a port's operational and regional requirements.

“The ESI sets the gold standard for green shipping and we encourage other ports to follow suit,” Knatz said. “The larger success of this program lies in its adoption by as many ports as possible to increase the rewards for operators willing to invest in clean air and maximize the health benefits for everyone.”

The Port of Los Angeles developed its ESI with input from the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association and other stakeholders. It’s tailored to fit with the port’s San Pedro Bay Clean Ports Air Action Plan, which sets specific bay-wide targets for near-term pollution reduction through 2014 and long-term objectives through 2023.

Los Angeles has committed $450,000 to jumpstart the program, which takes effect July 1.