The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is encouraging cleaner fuels, one ship at a time

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has a bold ambition: for the Port of Vancouver to be the most sustainable port in the world. Key to this vision is phasing out port-related emissions by 2050, and the port authority has enlisted the help of RightShip, among many others, to achieve this.

The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s largest port, and the third largest port in North America by tonnes of cargo. About $240 billion in goods between 170 countries is enabled by the port, and it generates $11.9 billion in GDP across Canada. 

What does it mean to be the most sustainable port in the world? Ronan Chester, director of Climate Action and Sustainability Leadership at the port authority, describes it like this: “We define it as a port that delivers economic prosperity through trade, maintains a healthy environment, and enables thriving communities, through meaningful dialogue, shared aspirations and collective accountability.” 

Eliminating port-related emissions is essential to this vision. To do this, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is encouraging environmentally-conscious choices by shipowners and charterers through generous incentives, provided through its EcoAction Program. Ronan Chester gives more details: 

“Starting this year, we are offering increased incentives for cleaner and quieter ships that call the Port of Vancouver. Through the new, ‘Platinum’ level EcoAction discount, the port authority is providing a 75% discount off harbour dues for ships that use low-emission, alternative fuels such as methanol, hydrogen or LNG or that use technologies to reduce emissions such as shore power.” 

Since 2007, the port authority has been offering incentives to shipping lines that go above and beyond in terms of environmental performance through the EcoAction Program. Between 2010 and 2019, participation in the program grew from 10% to 40%. Now, the port authority is doubling down on its initiative, offering large discounts to the most environmentally-friendly ships.  

This is where RightShip comes in. The port authority uses the RightShip rating system to award some of its discounts. Ships that score an ‘A’ RightShip rating get the Gold discount of 47% off their harbour dues. Ships that receive a ‘B’ RightShip rating are eligible for 35% off their harbour dues, and ships that receive a ‘C’ RightShip rating get 23% off. 
As the Port of Vancouver operates amongst many species of whales, porpoises, and dolphins, the port authority also encourages ship owners to minimize their underwater noise, in order to reduce disturbance to marine life. Currently, the port authority offers up to a 75% discount on harbour dues to ships that are certified as ‘quiet vessels’ by a ship classification society.  
The port authority also leads the internationally-renowned ECHO Program, which coordinates voluntary ship slowdowns to reduce underwater noise. Through this program, underwater sound intensity has been reduced by up to 55% in key foraging areas for at-risk whales off British Columbia’s southern coast. 

Bold action is required if we are to achieve zero harm in the maritime industry. We salute the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority for leading such ambitious environmental programs to encourage sustainable practices throughout the shipping industry.