The port of Long Beach (PoLB) has served as a model for ports around the world with its innovative environmental policies and programmes. In order to become the first zero emissions port in the world, it has implemented a Green Port Policy, says PoLB Media Relations Specialist, Mary Kate McHardy.
The port of Long Beach is one of America’s premier seaports and a pioneer in goods movement and environmental stewardship. Trade valued annually at more than $180 billion moves through Long Beach, making it the second-busiest seaport in the United States. Everything from clothing and shoes to toys, furniture and consumer electronics arrives at the port before making its way to store shelves throughout the country. Specialised terminals also move petroleum, automobiles, cement, lumber, steel and other products. A major economic force, the port supports more than 30,000 jobs in Long Beach, 316,000 jobs throughout Southern California and 1.4 million jobs throughout the United States. It generates about $16 billion in annual trade-related wages statewide.
Aggressive vessel-related environmental programmes
The port of Long Beach Green Port Policy was adopted in 2005 by the Board of Harbour Commissioners and serves as a guide for decision making. The policy establishes a framework for environmentally friendly port operations and has an aggressive, comprehensive and coordinated approach to reduce the negative impacts of those port operations. The adoption of the policy marked a shift for the port from compliance-oriented programmes to proactive environmental initiatives. The port is a pioneer in such programmes, including the Clean Trucks Programme, the Green Leases with environmental covenants and the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan.
The port has led the way through the use of shore power. When ships use shore power, they tap landside electricity for their power needs at berth – lights, pumps, communications, and refrigeration – instead of running diesel-fuelled auxiliary on-board engines. Moving aggressively to outfit its container terminals with shore power, also called “cold ironing,” the port has required terminal and vessel operators to use shore power through its newly negotiated Green Leases since 2006. It continues to seek out opportunities to increase the use of shore power beyond regulatory requirements. In 2009, the port became the first in the world to use shore power at an oil tanker facility.
In order to meet the California Air Resources Board’s shore power Regulation deadline by January 2014, the port completed $100 million worth of dockside power hook-ups, vessel operators retrofitted older ships for shore power and are building new ones, and Southern California Edison worked to install a new transmission system to meet the increased power demand. The state is requiring that, in 2014, half of the container ships plug-in, and 80 percent plug in by 2020. Shore power cuts air pollution from ships at berth by 95 percent and plugging in one container ship for one day is the equivalent of taking 42,000 cars off the road. As of January 2014, at least one berth at every container terminal at the port has shore power. By 2020, all container berths will have shore power.
Green Flag and Green Ship Programmes
Another result of the 2005 Green Port Policy is the Green Flag and Green Ship Programmes. Ships are major contributors to emissions in and around the port. The Green Flag Programme requires vessel operators to slow their ship’s speed as they enter the harbour to reduce emissions. Now in its 10th year, participation in the Green Flag programme is nearly universal. The new Green Ship Programme, which started in 2013, encourages vessel operators to operate the newest and cleanest ships when they dock at the port of Long Beach.
PoLB Acting Executive Director Al Moro credits part of the port’s green success to a partnership with its tenants and vessel operators. “Working together has really made the most impact. We can’t meet our aggressive goals without their participation in our green programmes. We thank them for the amazing partnership and their commitment to the environment,” he says.
The Green Flag programme rewards vessel operators for slowing down to 12 knots or less within 20 nautical miles of Point Fermin (near the entrance to the Harbour). Slower ships produce fewer emissions. In 2013, the most recent eligibility period for the awards, 98.9 percent of all ships calling at Long Beach slowed to 12 knots within 20 nautical miles of the port. In 2009, the port added the 40-nautical-mile option and last year, more than 87.9 percent of vessels slowed within 40 nautical miles.
This programme offers financial incentives for participation and Green Flag participants were awarded $2.9 million in 2013. At a ceremony in May 2014 seven of the largest vessel operators were honoured as top performers achieving at least 90% participation in 2013, earning special Green Flags for the impact of their air quality efforts. In 2013 the programme eliminated more than 1,000 tons of emissions and has contributed to the port reducing air pollution in Long Beach by over 81% since 2005.
Following the success of the Green Flag Programme, the port introduced the Green Ship Incentive Programme in 2012. This is a voluntary clean-air initiative targeting the reduction of smog-causing nitrogen oxides (NOx). It rewards qualifying vessel operators for deploying today’s greenest ships to the port of Long Beach and accelerating the Deployment of tomorrow’s greenest ships. These ships have engines meeting environmental standards that are at least 15 percent cleaner than earlier generations. This programme also offers dockage fee incentives and for 2013 $460,000 was awarded.
Reducing air pollution at the port
This year the port honoured 22 shipping lines for their commitment to improving air quality at its Environmental Achievement Awards luncheon. Seven Green Flag and seven Green Ship participants were honoured for 2013 and 8 shipping lines who were top performers in both categories won the Environmental Excellence Award.
“These aggressive environmental initiatives and programmes help the port of Long Beach move toward our goal of creating the world’s first zero-emissions port,” said Long Beach Harbour Commission President Doug Drummond, during his speech at the May 14 Environmental Achievement Awards Luncheon.
In all, more than 200 vessel operators were awarded Green Flags for participation in 2013, and qualified for reductions on dockage fees. The Green Flag and Green Ship programmes are just two of the many Green Port initiatives that have helped the port to dramatically decrease air pollution from port-related operations. Since 2005, nitrogen oxides are down 54 percent, diesel exhaust is down 81 percent, and sulphur oxides – which mainly come from ships – are down 88 percent.
With these initiatives, the port of Long Beach is dedicated to improving air quality more quickly and aggressively than it has ever been attempted by any seaport, anywhere in the world. For these reasons and more, the port is recognised internationally as one of the world’s best seaports and locally as a partner dedicated to helping the community thrive.