Ships play 'key role' in LA achieving 'historic' low emissions

Port highlights shore power, emissions capture technology, speed reduction and Environmental Ship Index.

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Updated on 21 Aug 2017 14:53 GMT

The Port of Los Angeles' latest emissions inventory report says the U.S. port's emissions were at a "record", "historic" low in 2016 while it was able to move more cargo than ever.

According to a 100-page document, entitled 'Port of Los Angeles Inventory of Air Emissions - 2016', last year marked the port's highest reduction of all key pollutants. Since Los Angeles' baseline inventory in 2005, diesel particulate matter (DPM) emissions have fallen 87 percent, sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions have plummeted 98 percent, and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions have dropped 57 percent.

During the same period, Los Angeles moved more than 8.85 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), maintaining its ranking as the Western Hemisphere's leading container seaport and surpassing the port's earlier record of nearly 8.47 million TEUs set in 2006.

A closer look at the numbers reveals the extent to which 2016 was a milestone year for the port's air quality improvement gains. From 2015 to 2016 alone, pollution is down 13 percent for DPM, 10 percent for NOx and 14 percent for SOx.

Substantial progress in reducing emissions from ships is said to have "played a key role" in the 2016 results. Factors include the ongoing trend of fewer vessel calls due to bigger ships carrying more cargo, fleet compliance with California's shore power regulations for an entire year without congestion, and an increased use of alternative emissions capture technology when plugging into shoreside electricity is unavailable.

Increased compliance with cleaner vessel fuel regulations, continued participation in the port's Vessel Speed Reduction Program, and growing participation in the port's voluntary Environmental Ship Index program are also said to have led to clean air progress. The latter offers incentives that encourage vessel operators to bring their cleanest ships to Los Angeles and demonstrate new onboard pollution reduction technology.

As Bunker Index reported last month, the proposed 2017 San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) Update outlines a new set of near-term and long-term strategies for the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbour complex to further reduce air pollution from all port-related sources and assist the state of California in meeting aggressive greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals.

It sets new targets for reducing GHG emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.