The Port of Los Angeles continues to make progress cutting emissions from ships, trains, trucks, harbor craft and cargo handling equipment since 2005, according to its 2018 Inventory of Air Emissions Report. Additionally, the report shows the Port is meeting and exceeding all 2023 targets for reducing primary pollutants while cargo volumes continue to rise.
“Even as cargo has increased 26 percent since the baseline year of 2005, we’ve sustained the remarkable clean air gains we’ve made since then,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “Our goal remains getting to zero emissions, which is why we’re focused on working with our partners on operational efficiencies and next-generation near-zero and especially zero emissions solutions, so our port, community and environment can thrive together.”
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The Port’s Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) compares emissions reductions for each calendar year to the 2005 baseline year to track progress toward CAAP goals. While 2018 container throughput rose to a historic high of nearly 9.46 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), up from 9.34 million TEUs in 2017, nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions are still 60% below 2005 levels, with an actual year-to-year decrease from 2017 of 1%. Sulfur oxides (SOx) emissions remain 98% below 2005 levels, with an actual year-to-year decrease from 2017 of 2%.
Diesel particulate matter (DPM) emissions remain at 87% below 2005 levels, though actual emissions of DPM increased slightly from 2017 by 1%. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are down 10% below 2005 levels, up 3% from 2017 levels.
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“The annual increases are not surprising given the 1.3% growth in container cargo volume since the previous year,” said Port Director of Environmental Management Christopher Cannon. “They underscore the importance of further reducing combustion-based engine technologies in heavy-duty equipment in port operations and ultimately moving toward widespread use of zero emission technologies to achieve continued GHG reductions.”
The Port is currently leading or participating in 16 projects with multiple partners to demonstrate near-zero and zero emissions engines, emissions control technology, and alternative fueling and charging stations. The projects include testing hybrid and fully battery-electric, natural gas and hydrogen fuel cell heavy-duty trucks; battery-electric forklifts, yard tractors, top handlers and rubber-tired gantry cranes; and emissions control equipment on large ships and harbor craft. All demonstrations are conducted in real-world operating conditions in and around the San Pedro Bay ports.
“These projects are among our most ambitious clean air initiatives to date,” Cannon said. “Year-to-year emissions may fluctuate as we develop, assess and implement these initiatives, but as we reduce or eliminate combustion, we move the needle closer to zero.”
The annual inventory is the Port’s primary tool for tracking the progress of multiple strategies for reducing and, where possible, eliminating air pollution from all port-related sources. The latest results are based on data collected during calendar year 2018 and reviewed by regional, state and federal air regulatory agencies.
Trends captured in the 2018 report include:
- The combination of larger ships carrying more containers, fewer total ship calls, and the Port’s vessel emissions reduction strategies resulted in a record reduction of ship emissions in all categories of pollutants. Clean air gains from ships are significant because, with the exception of GHGs, ships are the single largest source of emissions, generating more than 30% of all other pollutants measured. Ongoing strategies include vessel speed reduction, plugging into shore-side electricity at berth, use of cleaner-burning fuel, and incentives to attract newer, cleaner vessels.
- Cargo handling equipment, heavy-duty trucks, harbor craft and locomotives generated a modest increase in some pollutants compared with the previous year. Clean air gains from ships offset the increases, resulting in the Port holding the line on emissions overall.
- Heavy-duty trucks are the single largest source of GHGs, producing nearly 35% of GHGs from all port-related sources.
The latest results validate the Port’s aggressive pursuit of clean alternative fuels and near-zero and zero emissions technologies for powering the movement of cargo. New and expanded measures identified in the most recent update of the San Pedro Bay Ports CAAP adopted in late 2017 include:
- Trucks: Accelerating the transition to near-zero and zero emissions trucks by requiring all new drayage trucks calling at the ports to meet 2014 clean engine standards and establishing a Clean Truck Fund Rate on all trucks that do not meet near-zero and zero-emissions standards. The rate, expected to be introduced in 2020, would fund incentives for purchasing near-zero and zero-emissions drayage trucks. CAAP goals call for transitioning the on-road fleet serving the ports to zero-emissions trucks by 2035.
- Cargo handling equipment: Requiring terminal operators to purchase zero-emissions equipment, if feasible, or near-zero or the cleanest available when procuring new off-road yard equipment. CAAP goals call for transitioning all cargo handling equipment to zero emissions by 2030.
- Ships: Collaborating with vessel owners and operators to increase participation in technology demonstration and emissions reduction programs. Additionally, under California’s shore power regulations, the requirement for vessel operators to run container, refrigerated cargo and cruise ships on shore-side electricity at berth, or use alternative technology to capture emissions, jumps to 80% of their fleet effective Jan. 1, 2020.
- Harbor craft: Accelerating the deployment of cleaner engines and operational strategies to reduce harbor craft emissions.
- Locomotives: Partnering with the Class 1 line-haul and short-line railroads serving the ports to modernize the locomotive and switcher fleet with the cleanest available engines. Improving the on-dock rail network throughout the complex to move more cargo by rail is also top priority. One double-stacked train can eliminate up to 750 truck trips.
- Supply chain efficiencies: Collaborating with public and private sector partners on secure digital solutions that optimize the flow of cargo and reduce emissions across all modes from origin to destination.
The 2018 report shows the Port continues to meet and exceed all 2023 targets for reducing primary pollutants. The Port reached its 2023 DPM reduction goal in 2012 (77%), its SOx reduction goal in 2014 (93%), and its NOx target (59%) in 2017. Based on its 87% reduction of DPM emissions, the Port also continues to exceed its 2020 goal of reducing the health risk of port-related operations first reached in 2014. Going forward, the Port aims to reduce GHG emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.