California and Japan forge ties to develop green shipping corridors

The governments of California and Japan have formalized a partnership aimed at working together to cut pollution at seaports and establish green shipping corridors.

Illustration; Photo courtesy of the Port of Los Angeles

The two sides signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) on port decarbonization and green shipping corridors on Wednesday in Tokyo as part of a weeklong U.S. trade mission to Japan.

As noted in the letter, the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) will support green shipping corridors, port decarbonization and the deployment of zero-emission transportation through the $1.2 billion Port and Freight Infrastructure Program.

In addition, the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism along with California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and the California Energy Commission (CEC) will share expertise and best practices on critical efforts to cut port-related pollution, including strategies for offshore wind development and zero-emission fuels and infrastructure.

LoI signatories

The letter also indicates that the Japanese ministry will plan a study to develop ammonia fuel bunkering methods and will share the outcome of this study with the relevant Californian counterparts.

The ministry is already supporting private sector development and demonstration of core technologies for zero-emission vessels including ship engines, fuel tanks, and fuel supply systems, and the two sides have launched joint initiatives to make port operations greener.

Namely, a joint venture of Japanese and United States companies has started implementing a demonstration project at the Port of Los Angeles that highlights the use of hydrogen fuel cells to power port container handling equipment and drayage trucks, and the local production of hydrogen for local consumption at ports.

Namely, in December 2021, the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) awarded its grant to Toyota Tsusho Corporation and Toyota Tsusho America Inc. for a technology development project on the use of hydrogen fuel cell to power port container handling equipment and drayage trucks. This project is scheduled to be implemented from February 2022 to March 2026 in collaboration with Mitsui E&S Machinery Co., PACECO CORP., Hino Motors, and Hino Motor Manufacturing U.S.A.

The LoI builds on the partnership Governor Newsom forged last March to enhance trade and climate action between the world’s third- and fourth-largest economies.

“The ports of California and Japan help power the global economy and will now help power a new era of clean energy, clean transportation and good-paying green jobs,” said Governor of California, Gavin Newsom.

“California is a global climate and economic leader, and I’m thankful to the Japanese government for collaborating with us to help accelerate efforts to aggressively combat climate change on both sides of the Pacific and recognizing that we need to get things done now because later is too late.”

“We would like to take this letter of intent as an opportunity to deepen our cooperation with the State of California and strengthen our efforts to decarbonize our ports and create green shipping corridors,” said State Minister Toshiro Toyoda of Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

Governor Newsom issued a climate executive order in 2020 setting a goal of 100 percent zero-emission drayage truck operation by 2035 as part of the state’s ambitious goals of reaching net zero carbon pollution no later than 2045 and delivering 90 percent clean energy by 2035.

Japan aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 46 percent in Fiscal Year 2030 from its Fiscal Year 2013 levels, in line with the long-term goal of achieving net-zero by 2050.