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International Transport Forum calls for greater, more harmonised use of port-based incentives

International Transport Forum calls for greater, more harmonised use of port-based incentives
Sam Chambers April 18th, 2018

Port-based financial incentives to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions currently remain marginal, however greater, more focused application of these green payments could help shipping decarbonise, a report issued by the International Transport Forum (ITF) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) suggests today.

The news follows hot on the heels of the widely read ITF report issued last month that maintained deployment of all currently known technologies could make it possible to almost completely decarbonise maritime shipping by 2035.

Currently the most common financial incentive used by ports around the world is the environmentally differentiated port fee.

This is applied in approximately 28 of the 100 largest ports in terms of total cargo volume handled (in tonnes) and container volumes handled. In practice, this takes the form of a reduction of port fees for ships that are considered environmentally friendly, usually based on an index related to ship characteristics. Some US ports have introduced financial incentives for ships reducing speed when approaching the port. The Panama Canal Authority has a scheme that provides priority slot allocation to greener ships. Spain includes environmental incentives in the tender and license criteria for the towage services provided in ports. Shanghai has an emission-trading scheme in which ports and domestic shipping are included and in Norway an NOx tax is in place.

“Despite the prominent place of such incentive schemes, very little is known about their actual impact,” the ITF report stated, pointing out that public information on how many ships use these schemes is scarce and there is no port that has proven GHG emission reductions as a result of such policies.

The only scheme for which serious impact studies exist is the vessel speed reduction scheme in Los Angeles and Long Beach in the US.

ITF described the current impact of port-based incentives on global shipping emissions as “marginal”.