Port cities are key to reducing maritime carbon emissions
Port cities provide an essential – and neglected – way to help decarbonise the global economy. The maritime sector has been seen as lagging behind in decarbonization, but port cities are uniquely positioned to help catalyze reduced emissions from maritime transport. More than half of all maritime emissions come from ships moored in ports.
A port can provide clean renewable energy to ships in the port – as well as to the city and surrounding industrial clusters – and support ships can provide clean electricity to ships as they approach the port.
Port cities can also provide the necessary infrastructure to facilitate the switch from fuel oil to liquefied natural gas for ships, apply “green port charges” and incentive fees to accelerate the adoption of clean shipping, invest in the hydrogen, biogas and carbon capture and sequestration infrastructure and develop circular and bioeconomic infrastructure and activities.
State-of-the-art digital platforms in port cities can help optimize shipping and port operations, reduce overall emissions, and integrate the energy systems of port cities and adjacent territory.
The EU has recognized the potential of ports
The EU’s Green Deal sets a 90% emission reduction target for EU port cities and includes new measures to ensure that EU ports begin the transition in the years to come.
The issue is equally urgent in Asian ports, particularly in China, where seven of the world’s 10 busiest container ports are located, and where ship emissions have become a target for pollution reduction and for contributing. strategically to mitigate climate change.
Partly because of their rapid growth, many port cities have large populations and have accumulated significant physical assets. In 2005, it was estimated that $ 3 trillion in port infrastructure – or 5% of global GDP – was threatened by the destructive effects of climate change along the coasts. This amount is expected to be multiplied by more than eleven by 2050.
Maritime transport currently represents more than 3% of global CO2 emissions.
But the maritime sector has not been included under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and has instead been delegated to the Organization. Maritime International (IMO). According to the design office, CE Delft, in a business as usual scenario, the sector’s total GHG emissions would increase by 120% from 2012 to 2050 and could represent around 10% of total GHG emissions by then. Other estimates predict that the sector’s share in 2050 will become much higher.
The maritime sector is not changing fast enough
The IMO has adopted the sector’s first CO2 emissions target – a reduction of at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 – and agreed to reduce the carbon intensity of international maritime transport by 40 % by 2030 (and to continue progress towards 70% by 2030). 2050).
Port cities have become strategic political actors in the global effort to reduce GHG emissions – it is essential that they build on promising collaborative efforts in the maritime domain.
Yet these targets are generally considered to be significantly lower than what is required by the Paris Agreement, as they would still allow emissions from the shipping sector to continue to rise well beyond 2030.
Port cities in middle-income countries will need to move quickly to more sustainable trajectories. China leads all countries in terms of CO2 emissions. Among its cities with the highest CO2 emissions are Shanghai and Tianjin, which host two of the world’s 10 largest ports.
Port Klang in Malaysia handles more volume than Antwerp, and the ports of Laem Chabang, Thailand and Tanjung Priok, Indonesia, are both busier than the ports of New York and New Jersey.
More and more, port cities are coming together in transnational networks to share their experiences and good practices, project strategy, coordinate policies and encourage relevant stakeholders in the maritime sectors to act on climate change and to evolve towards sustainable systems. net zero carbon.
Some ports lead the way
A growing number of port cities are taking affirmative action. In the wake of the Paris Agreement, the largest port in Europe articulated the “Rotterdam Climate Agreement” with the participation of more than 100 companies and social organizations. The multi-party agreement contains nearly 50 measures to make the port city more sustainable and aims for a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030.
The Port of Rotterdam itself has developed a three-step carbon neutral energy transition strategy and has set its own target of reducing carbon emissions from its maritime and industrial activities by 49% by 2030 and 90%. % by 2050.
In contrast, many ports in the developing world are problematic in terms of facilities and operations, polluted and vulnerable to great economic losses due to damage to infrastructure due to climate change.
The Global Port Climate Action Program (WPCAP), launched in June 2018, brings together the port of Yokohama and several leading ports in Europe and North America. WPCAP agreed on a program of action focused on improving the efficiency of ships, ports and terminals, developing green energy on land for ships and other stakeholder uses in ports, promoting the use of alternative fuels, reducing the carbon footprint of cargo handling equipment and using policy instruments to reduce maritime emissions.
Port cities have become strategic political actors in the global effort to reduce GHG emissions. It is essential that they build on promising collaborative efforts in the maritime domain, in and around port facilities and in links with the inland transport sector. Other key players in the promotion of sustainable practices should seek synergies and complementarity with the action of port cities in these contiguous physical areas.