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Ahead of MEPC 76, the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) and the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma have urged Secretary John Kerry, the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, to press for ‘strong US action’ to reduce international maritime GHG emissions.

In an open letter sent to Secretary Kerry and Jeffrey G. Lantz, the Director of Commercial Regulations and Standards at the US Coast Guard and the US Head of Delegation to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the NWSA Co-Chairs Fred Felleman and Dick Marzano – who are respectively the Presidents of the Seattle and Tacoma Port Commissions – expressed ‘gratitude’ for the ‘renewed and active engagement’ by the US government on environmental strategies and IMO policies. They also gave their ‘strong support for the adoption of clear guidelines on short-term GHG reduction measures at the upcoming 76th session the IMO’s Maritime Environmental Policy Committee (MEPC)’, and for an ‘increased focus by the IMO on reducing underwater noise from international ships’.

The NWSA Co-Chairs highlighted the role that shore power can play – and is already playing at the Northwest ports – to reduce maritime emissions.

‘In April of this year,’ wrote Felleman and Marzano, ‘our three ports [Tacoma, Seattle and the NWSA container gateway], along with the Vancouver-Fraser Port Authority in British Columbia, Canada, adopted the 2020 Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, which sets a shared vision to phase out seaport-related emissions of both diesel particulate matter (DPM) and GHG emissions by 2050 at the latest. Currently, ocean-going vessels account for more than half of those emissions in the Seattle and Tacoma harbours: 54% of DPM and 55% of the GHG. We are investing tens of millions of dollars to install shore power infrastructure at our major cargo and cruise ship terminals by 2030, which will nearly eliminate the emissions from those ships while at-berth; but the at-berth emissions are a relatively small percentage of the total emissions from those ships: 8% of the DPM and 11% of the GHG.’

The letter then focused on the role that the US could play at MEPC 76, which starts on Thursday (10 July): ‘Simply put, we cannot achieve the vision of becoming zero-emission seaports without stronger international policies and programs to phase out emissions from international shipping and create a “level playing field” across all seaports. We are requesting strong leadership by the US in support of international action at the IMO in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommendations to reduce global climate pollution.’

They continued: ‘The initial climate strategy adopted by the IMO in 2017 is a good start, but its central goals – to reduce total carbon emissions from international shipping 50 percent by 2050 and to phase out GHG emissions “as soon as possible this century” – must be strengthened as the IMO works toward adopting a revised strategy in 2023. In the meantime, we strongly support the short-term measures currently under development and consideration, including the Energy Efficiency Index for ship operations, the carbon intensity indicator, and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan requirements. These are critical steps in the right direction, and we support strengthening these short-term measures once the framework is adopted by MEPC, like the process that the Energy Efficiency Design Index has undergone since its initial adoption.’

Click here to view the NWSA letter.

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