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Ports Pledge to Cut Greenhouse Gases

Long Beach and 40 other ports gather to set environmental agenda

July 11, 2008

Port of Long Beach Executive Director Richard D. Steinke and Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Geraldine Knatz, Ph.D., joined with port leaders from around the globe this week in Rotterdam, Netherlands, to declare their commitment to the reduction of greenhouse gases and the improvement of air quality at ports worldwide. 

Southern California's San Pedro Bay Ports and other participants at the C40 World Ports Climate Conference endorsed a declaration saying that because there is evidence greenhouse gases are tied to global climate change, ports have a responsibility to cut emissions from oceangoing ships, port operations and hinterland goods movement, and to promote renewable energy. The ports also agreed to take stock of their carbon footprints and to develop goals to shrink them. 

The conference featured representatives from ports that had already taken action to reduce greenhouse gases and other air pollutants. At a panel discussion on oceangoing vessels, Steinke spoke on Port of Long Beach programs that target vessel-related emissions, including greenhouse gases. 

For example, the Port's pollution-cutting Green Flag Vessel Speed Reduction program has achieved more than 90 percent vessel participation, cutting more than 24,000 tons of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide) and reducing air pollution by 600 tons a year. The Port of Long Beach and neighboring Port of Los Angeles just launched an incentive program to encourage ships to switch to cleaner, low-sulfur fuel at berth and when transiting within 40 miles of the ports.

"This conference is important for the Port of Long Beach's efforts to clean the air. When ports around the world join together to commit to environmental stewardship and reducing greenhouse gases, it strengthens local clean air programs like ours," Steinke said.

Dr. Knatz, the 2009 chairwoman-elect of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), made presentations on innovative climate initiatives like the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan. She also spoke about the carbon footprint reduction efforts underway at various U.S. ports in conjunction with their local and state government programs.  

In Los Angeles, these efforts include the "Green LA" plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent below 1990 levels over the next two decades.  In addition, Los Angeles' "Zero Emissions Port" initiatives include the Port's funding of a prototype all-electric heavy-duty short-haul drayage truck and plans to initiate a 10 megawatt solar electrical power generation program in 2009.

"This conference illustrates that change is afoot among leading seaports, recognizing what we can do to contribute to cleaner air and more sustainable operations -- all for the benefit of our cities and the global community," said Knatz. 

Along with leaders of ports and port cities, members of the shipping industry participated at the conference. The conference was organized to ensure the broadest possible support for clean ports and clean shipping.

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