World-class environmental programs are critical in realizing the port authority’s vision “to be the world’s most sustainable port.” Contributing to a healthy environment in the Vancouver-area gateway is contingent upon promoting and implementing responsible industry practices that support healthy ecosystems and take action on climate change. The port authority’s approach is guided by considering the needs of all stakeholders in the gateway, as it further integrates sustainable practices into all aspects of its operations, while bringing added-value to its customers.

Taking action on climate change

Since 2007, discounts on harbour dues through the port authority’s EcoAction program have been offered to shipping lines calling at the Port of Vancouver. Ships can obtain up to 47 per cent off the basic harbour due rate, depending on the adoption of voluntary best practices to reduce emissions and environmental impacts. Best practices can include obtaining third-party environmental designations for energy efficient or quiet ships or using alternative fuels. In 2016, 561 vessel calls took part in the EcoAction program, representing 22 per cent of all eligible calls for the year.

To further reduce emissions, Deltaport and Centerm container terminals are in the process of installing shore power at their facilities. By spring 2018, each terminal is expected to have one shore power equipped berth. The provision of shore power has potential to reduce ship engine noise and air emissions by allowing ships to shut off their diesel-powered auxiliary engines and connect to the hydroelectric grid while at-berth. A similar program has been in place for the Canada Place cruise terminal since 2009, which has reduced 13,010 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions between 2012 and 2016. If a vessel is shore power capable, it can qualify for gold certification under the port authority’s EcoAction rating program.

The Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation Program (ECHO) is an ongoing port authority-led initiative that aims to better understand and develop solutions to mitigate the impact of shipping activities on at-risk whales along the southern B.C. coast. Some threats to whales in this area include underwater noise, ship collisions, environmental contaminants, and availability of prey.

Since 2014, the ECHO Program has been working collaboratively with scientists, shipping industries, conservation and environmental groups, First Nations individuals and government agencies.  As a result of the studies undertaken by the program, in 2017 the port authority added new noise reductions incentives to the EcoAction program. Vessel owners can receive discounts on harbour dues if select cavitation or wake flow reduction technologies have been installed.

This summer, over 50 industry organizations confirmed their intent to participate in a voluntary vessel slowdown trial to study the relationship between underwater noise and commercial vessel speed and its effect on southern resident killer whales. The port authority values the partnership and participation of the shipping industry in this voluntary research trial.

The port authority recently joined the LNG Bunkering Port Focus Group, an international initiative to strengthen the network of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) bunker-ready ports with 11 members across Asia, Europe and North America. Together, this group will bolster efforts to enable the transition to LNG as a marine fuel. In 2017, the port will continue to work collaboratively with industry stakeholders to develop guidance on LNG fueling at the port, including developing best practices to minimize fugitive methane emissions. The use of LNG as marine fuel in shipping significantly reduces air pollutants as well as helps achieve modest reductions in carbon dioxide and black carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

In 2015, the port authority began a partnership with Climate Smart, a Vancouver-based social enterprise, to match funding for tenants who participate in the Climate Smart program. This supports tenants in measuring and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In 2015, 11 tenants participated in the program which helped them eliminate 2,788 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2E) from their operations while achieving $670,000 in annual cost savings. In 2016, four new tenants joined the program and in 2017, the port is aiming to increase the number of Climate Smart certified tenants.

Sustainability will drive the future

Adopting responsible practices among port industry stakeholders helps facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy. Working with its partners and responding to Canada’s trade needs, while looking for new opportunities to embed best practices into its operations, the port authority is progressing toward its vision to become the world’s most sustainable port.