On 28 May, ESPO presented the key components of its forthcoming Green Guide 2021 during the ESPO Conference Regatta 2021. The ESPO Green Guide 2021, a Manual for European Ports Towards a Green Future has now been published.
Reducing pollution and other externalities
Air quality management
ort authorities are doing their part to improve air quality in the port area. According to the 2020 ESPO Environmental Report, monitoring of air quality in ports has increased by 15% since 2013, and around two-thirds of European ports are currently monitoring air pollution as part of their environmental management.
Port authorities are also involved in mitigating air pollution in port areas, with a growing number of port authorities providing incentives for ships that go beyond regulatory standards via differentiated port fees. Another way to reduce SOx and NOx emissions in ports is through supporting the deployment and use of alternative fuels such as onshore power supply or other alternative equivalent solutions.
Mitigating climate change through reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (primarily CO2) in the port area requires the involvement of all stakeholders present in the port. Shipping is usually the largest source of CO2 emissions in the port.
In addition, berthed ships account for another 2% of total transport emissions in Rotterdam 15. A similar pattern emerges in the Port of Helsinki, where shipping accounted for 78% of CO2 emissions in the Port of Helsinki in 2020, including emissions at berth and navigation within the port. Reducing air pollution can also help reduce emissions of CO2, including through the use of Onshore Power Supply (OPS) and alternative equivalent solutions, and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
All port infrastructures must be built to withstand flooding and storms. In 2020, the ESPO Environmental Report found that 65% of surveyed ports take steps to strengthen resilience of existing infrastructure to climate change-related challenges 16.
Worryingly, a lower share of ports reported that they are considering climate adaptation as part of new infrastructure development projects in 2020 compared to previous years. Climate change has also made port infrastructure more expensive. Increased funding possibilities are therefore necessary to cover the growing financial burden of adaptation
Ports are in many countries subject to strict rules on noise, especially if they are urban ports located close to housing. Ports are taking steps to reduce noise, which also has positive impacts for port employees and other actors operating in the port area. Monitoring noise levels and identifying sources of noise is the key first step.
Compared to when the first ESPO Environmental Report was published in 2013, a greater number of ports (54%) actively monitor noise levels 17. Ports also consider noise mitigation when investing in equipment, opting for electric machinery and installations, which are generally less noisy.
As part of optimising activities in ports, noisy activities during night-time are avoided and the duration and intensity of noise are reduced.
Waste from port-based activities
Preventing waste from being created, and avoiding it spreading, are key to addressing waste from port-based activities. The more waste that can be reused and recycled, the better. Therefore, waste management is a key component of the positive contribution of ports to climate and environmental management, as will be discussed further in the second pillar.
According to the ESPO 2020 Environmental Report, port waste and garbage is the most monitored indicator by surveyed ports (79%), and ports increasingly monitor the issue 21. Together with the monitoring of water quality by ports, which relates to issues of marine litter (especially plastics), European ports address waste both on the land side and in the water in the port.
Waste management onboard ships
Waste from ships is addressed in the Port Reception Facilities (PRF) Directive, which requires that all ships pay a flat fee to ports, irrespective of the waste they generate under the system. The Directive also includes rebates for ships that engage in sustainable waste management onboard, and produce reduced quantities of waste.
Reflecting the priority that European ports place on waste management, the ESPO secretariat is Vice-Chair of the European Sustainable Shipping Forum subgroup on Waste from Ships. This subgroup is responsible for the implementation of the PRF Directive. As part of this work, ESPO is responsible for developing criteria for the sustainable management and reduction of waste generated onboard vessels.
Ports finding green solutions
Ports provide important bunkering and fuelling infrastructure for shipping and other transport modes converging in the port area. They also help meet the energy needs of industries located in the port area.
Increasingly, ports provide the link to the supply of offshore renewable energy generated by wind and wave power and play a similar role for onshore renewable energy generated by biomass, wind or solar power in port areas. Ports are also strategically placed to act as key hubs for the production, deployment and trade of renewable energy.
Ports are not only areas where the emissions from various maritime and industrial activities come together, they also have a pivotal role in bringing Europe closer to its decarbonisation and zero pollution targets
Such renewable energy production in the port area could be fed back into the grid, with ports acting as important gateways for imports of renewable energy and sustainable fuels to Europe. That makes them crucial to the import and export of hydrogen and renewable energy from outside the EU.
Furthermore, ports provide the site for the production of hydrogen or hydrogen-derived fuels such as ammonia, with a large number of ports are currently considering the introduction of Power-to-X solutions in ports, using electricity to produce hydrogen, methane and ammonia.
Ports are ideal places to develop circular economy, and European ports have longstanding experience with circularity. As previously explained, European ports are often situated in or near metropolitan areas, where huge amounts of end-of-life products are available.
Ports are also crossing-points of all types of waste and industrial flows, logistical hubs for the export and import of waste materials, active promoters of innovation, and the sites for waste management industries. In a unique interaction between port and city, the waste for one becomes the resource for the other, and vice versa.
Many circular initiatives are ongoing in ports – and have been for a long time. This means that many good examples of circularity projects can be found in the good green practices, where the category for Waste & Circular showcases various ways in which ports are reducing waste, recycling heat and garbage, and reusing resources in new ways