The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners has formally approved an Environmental Ship Index (ESI) program to take effect July 1. The Port of Los Angeles thus becomes the first seaport in North America and the Pacific Rim to adopt an international clean air program that rewards ocean carriers for bringing their newest and cleanest vessels to the port.
The ESI is a web-based tool developed by the World Ports Climate Initiative (WPCI), a project of the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH). The program, already underway at several major European ports, 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 IMO.
Ship emissions are the single-largest source of air pollution from port-related operations. While diesel particulate matter (DPM) and sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions from ships calling at the Port of Los Angeles decreased 68 percent and 74 percent, respectively, between 2005 and 2010, Los Angeles sees the ESI as another strong step to encourage the building and deployment of cleaner-burning ships in the TransPacific trade lane.
“We are proud to introduce this win-win strategy to North America and the Pacific Rim,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “Today’s action shows our city continues to build on its commitment to think globally, act locally.”
“The ESI sets the gold standard for green shipping and we encourage other ports to follow suit,” said Port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz Ph.D. “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.”
Under Dr. Knatz, who chairs the WPCI and is the current president of IAPH, the Port of Los Angeles has been instrumental in developing the global index. 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. Fourteen European ports have adopted the program.
The Port of Los Angeles developed its ESI with input from the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association and other stakeholders. Its program also conforms to the 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.
Specifically, operators whose vessels call at the port can earn an incentive ranging from $250 to $5,250 per ship call by meeting one or all of the following three requirements:
- Scoring 30 or more ESI points based on a vessel’s engine specifications and emissions certification; use of low sulfur fuel, plug-in ready on-board shore power technology, and a Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP).
- Deploying ships with a Tier II or Tier III engine to the Port of Los Angeles.
- Participating in a demonstration program to test and improve vessel emission reduction technology.
Incentives will be paid on a quarterly basis, with the first distribution scheduled for October 2012. For the first sixth months of the program, ships can qualify for the first incentive with a score of 25 points. The lower introductory threshold is intended to encourage early participation and help operators familiarize themselves with the ESI website and reporting requirements.
To participate, operators must enroll their companies and vessels in the ESI program through the IAPH/WPCI website here. Registration prior to July 1 is encouraged. To receive the incentive payment, operators must also register with the Port of Los Angeles here. Registration is free.
Initially, up to 30 percent of the ships calling at the Port are expected to qualify for the ESI incentives. Thirty percent participation would cut diesel particulate matter (DPM) emissions by 16 tons within the first year and reduce emissions of other primary pollutants, namely nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The port has committed $450,000 to jump start the program.
The Port of Los Angeles’ ESI program is also an opportunity for vessel operators to get ahead of more stringent environmental requirements before they become mandatory. On Jan. 1, 2014, statewide clean air regulations will require ships operating within 24 nautical miles of the California coastline to use fuel with a reduced sulfur content limited to 0.1 percent or less.
Under an Emissions Control Area established by international agreement, the same standard will take effect throughout North America on Jan. 1, 2015. As these requirements take effect, the port will encourage ocean carriers to continue to reduce vessel emissions by raising the bar to qualify for its ESI incentives.
The Port will hold an informational ESI workshop for shipping lines in June. The new program follows the Port’s highly successful Vessel Speed Reduction Program, whose voluntary compliance today exceeds 92 percent within 20 miles of the Port and 70 percent within 40 miles of the Port.
May 3, 2012