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Air Quality Still Top Environmental Priority for European Ports

Air quality continues to be the top environmental priority of the European ports this year as well, according to the Environmental Report for 2019 published by the European Sea Ports Organization (ESPO).

Presented at the GreenPort Congress in Oslo on October 17, the 2019 report encompasses a total of 94 ports.

As explained, it includes more than 60 different environmental performance benchmarks including figures on the green services to shipping — shore-side electricity, LNG and environmentally differentiated port dues — as well as the Top 10 environmental priorities for 2019.

Followed by energy consumption, air quality has become a key determinant of public “acceptance” of port activity in the years to come, ESPO said.

Climate change, included in the Top 10 for the first time two years ago, is in 2019 the third top priority. Almost eight out of ten European ports take climate change into consideration when they develop new infrastructure projects. Furthermore, 62% of ports strengthen the climate resilience of existing infrastructure and 47% of them have already dealt with operational challenges due to climate change.

The relationship with the local community, which is of utmost importance for ports, is in position five this year. The 2019 citizen is stronger, better informed and more engaged. The local community is the new influencer and this is also for ports an important reality, the report finds.

Transparency is said to be a high priority with 87% of the ports communicating their environmental policy to the stakeholders and 82% of them making it publicly available on their website. With regard to the green services to shipping, more than half of the ports are offering shore-side electricity for ships at berth (OPS) and 48% of them are providing high voltage electricity for seagoing vessels. One third of them have made LNG bunkering available, LNG being mainly provided by trucks (90%) and by barges (20%). In parallel, 56% of ports provide environmentally differentiated fees for ships that go beyond regulatory standards, with air emissions, waste and climate change being the main targets of these discounts.

In addition, 71% of the ports are certified with an environmental standard, a rise of 17% since 2013. 82% of ports have set up an environmental monitoring program, with waste being the most monitored issue.

“In this year’s report, we see that ports continue to invest in green infrastructure such as shore-side electricity for ships at berth,” Isabelle Ryckbost, ESPO’s Secretary General, commented.

“However, we have to be aware of the increased investment costs and the technical challenges that prevent shore-side electricity from making today a strong business case. Increased costs relating to the connection with the grid and the electricity shortage at city or regional level are often additional barriers.”

“Importantly, the price differential remains high due to level of taxation under EU Energy Taxation Directive and national levies applied to electricity price. Uncertainty on the use and the prospect of other promising technologies such as hydrogen makes it difficult to decide,” Ryckbost further said.

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