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Port of Los Angeles to Pay Carriers for Using Low-Emission Ships

The Port of Los Angeles has adopted an international clean air program that will pay a monetary reward to ocean carriers for bringing their newest, most efficient and lowest emission vessels to port.

The port estimates that if the predicted 30 percent of vessels qualify for participation, this would cut diesel particulate matter emissions by 16 tons within the first year, and reduce emissions of other pollutants such as carbon dioxide and sulfur oxides. Ship emissions are the single largest source of air pollution from port-related operations.

The Port of Los Angeles is the first seaport in North America and the Pacific Rim to agree to such a program, based on the Environmental Ship Index, a web-based tool developed by the World Ports Climate Initiative. The ESI, already in use by several European ports, rewards vessel operators that have made engine, fuel and technology improvements that reduce emissions beyond the International Maritime Organization’s regulatory standards.

Once a ship registers for the ESI and receives a score it is eligible for incentives. The monetary incentives are based on a ship’s score and can be as high as $1,250 per call to the port, according to program guidelines.

The Port of Los Angeles developed its ESI, which can be tailored to fit operational and regional requirements, with input from the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association. The index also conforms to the San Pedro Bay Clean Ports Air Action Plan, which set pollution reduction targets through 2014 and long-term objectives through 2023.

The Los Angeles ESI program is scheduled to take effect July 1.

Past efforts have helped reduce Port of Los Angeles vessels’ diesel particulate matter by 68 percent and sulfur oxide emissions by 74 percent between 2005 and 2010. The harbor commission sees the ESI program as another method to encourage the building and deployment of cleaner-burning ships in the TransPacific trade lane.

Picture credit: Container ship in Port of Los Angeles from Flickr user eblaser, CC 2.0

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