Ports of Seattle, Tacoma adopt plans to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050

The US ports of Seattle, Tacoma, and the combined container operations of The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) have adopted near-term implementation plans that will enable each port to identify, prioritize, and focus resources on actions that help achieve their collective zero-emission vision.

Image Courtesy: NWSA

Specifically the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy covers six sectors of port activity — oceangoing vessels, cargo-handling equipment, trucks, harbor vessels, rail, and port administration and tenant facilities.

The recently adopted implementation plans direct changes in equipment, fuels, and infrastructure to fulfill the ports’ voluntary commitment to the Clean Air Strategy’s vision of phasing out seaport-related emissions by 2050 to support cleaner air for local communities.

Related Article

The Port of Seattle adopted the Charting the Course to Zero: Port of Seattle’s Maritime Climate and Air Action Plan on 16 November. The Action plan identifies strategies through 2030 to halve greenhouse gas emissions, including commitments to:

  • Complete the Seattle Waterfront Clean Energy Strategy to plan for the transition to zero-emissions equipment, locomotives, vehicles, vessels, and buildings along the waterfront;
  • Install shore power infrastructure at all cruise ship berths and achieve a 100% connection rate for homeport cruise ship calls;
  • Phase out fossil natural gas in port-owned buildings and transition all port-owned light-duty fleet vehicles to electric or renewable fuels.

“Each of our ports plans were developed in close collaboration with government, industry, and community stakeholders whose engagement strengthened and increased the viability of the ports’ commitments,” Fred Felleman, Port of Seattle Commission President and Co-Chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance, commented.

“We are starting today so that we can meet our carbon reduction commitments for decades to come and will continue to seek state, federal and private resources to increase our competitiveness as a green gateway.”

The Port of Tacoma adopted its Clean Air Strategy Implementation Plan on 17 November. The plan includes:

  • Developing and implementing a policy to incorporate sustainable building practices in new port-owned buildings and major remodel projects;
  • Installing electric vehicle charging stations at five port locations;
  • Transitioning the port’s fleet to plug-in hybrid or electric vehicles.

“The adoption of these implementation plans is a critical step in the success of the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy and maintaining our commitment to reducing air emissions to zero,” Dick Marzano, Port of Tacoma Commission President and Co-Chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance, said.

 “Over the next five years, our ports will enact these changes and make key investments that enable us to protect air quality and continue to be leaders in the international call to take action on climate change.”

The Managing Members of the NWSA adopted their 2021-2025 Implementation Plan on 7 December. The NWSA plan includes:

  • Reducing emissions from existing fleets of vessels, vehicles, and equipment by scrapping more than 50 high-polluting trucks through the Scrap and Replace Program, adding zero emission cargo handing equipment to operations, and deploying a hybrid or zero-emission tug within the gateway. This is in addition to the 450 trucks that have already been scrapped using grant funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington Department of Ecology, City of Seattle, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, and the Department of Transportation;
  • Accelerating the transition to zero-emission fuels and technologies through the development of fueling and charging infrastructure including continued installation of shore power on international container terminals. One terminal has already been equipped with shore power, construction of shore power systems at two more terminals has been committed, and planning and design is beginning on shore power systems for four additional terminals;
  • Collaborating closely with tenants and industry partners to deploy the Clean Truck Collaborative and implement an International Engagement Strategy for reducing vessel emissions.

The Clean Air Strategy and port-specific implementation plans were developed with extensive engagement across industry, government, non-profits, and near-port communities.

NWSA said it will continue to collaborate with stakeholders, other ports and partners to advance toward a zero-emissions future, in addition to advancing an international engagement strategy for reducing vessel emissions.

The port alliance is also working with shippers and cruise operators to help them meet their own carbon reduction goals.