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State Department Weighs in on Green Shipping Corridors

The State Department aimed to explain what defines a green corridor as it pushes the maritime industry to adopt strategies that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a move it said would align shipping with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) released a document last week broadly designed to help companies identify how to implement low- or zero-emission fuels and technologies.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the shipping sector are significant and rising,” the DOS document said. “Shipping would be the eighth largest emitter if it were a ‘country,’ and by 2050, emissions from the sector are projected to increase by up to 50 percent from 2018 levels under a business-as-usual scenario.”

The impetus for the document is part of a larger effort to hit zero greenhouse gas emissions within international shipping by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement.

Green corridors are seen as key in the maritime industry’s efforts to reduce emissions and is viewed by the government as part of an “early adoption phase” to reaching the 2050 target, DOS said.

“Green shipping corridors will not achieve zero emissions across all aspects of the corridor overnight,” the document said. “Instead, the journey to establish a fully decarbonized corridor is a series of steps and actions taken over time to cover all aspects of the route.”

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DOS suggested local and state enforcement and policies around targets and goals.

“Participants in a green shipping corridor effort should be transparent not only about data, but also about their role in the effort,” the document said, specifically calling out ports, terminal operators, ocean carriers, charters, logistics companies and others for their role in helping reduce emissions.

The document went on to suggest possible steps for reduction that include alternative fuels infrastructure, along with ships powered by low- or zero-emission fuels and technologies.

Several efforts have already been underway by individual carriers for greener vessel fleets, in addition to policy goals created by different organizations.

In late January a green shipping corridor for the transpacific trade route was established via a partnership struck with the Port of Los Angeles, Port of Shanghai and C40 Cities. Ocean carriers participating in the plan include A.P. Moller-Maersk, CMA CGM and Cosco Shipping Lines.

C40 is a group of mayors representing about 100 global cities, working on ways to address climate change. It aims to halve these cities’ emissions in this decade.

The group looking to green the transpacific corridor said it aims to offer a plan for implementation to reduce emissions by the end of this year. Part of that will include ramping the use of low- and zero-carbon ships along the route in this decade. The partnership is also working on reducing emissions at the ports of Los Angeles and Shanghai, along with other emissions reductions practices for all ships using the route.

C40 Cities executive director Mark Watts said at the time of the transpacific corridor’s announcement that decarbonization in shipping is an “urgent” matter.

“By convening international coalitions of the willing and creating a scalable and replicable model for other cities to follow, we hope this ground-breaking green shipping corridor initiative will catalyze action on a global scale,” he said.

C40 touted the strides its overall membership made in a 2021 annual report released late last month that said its members rolled out 871 “climate actions” last year, which included establishing green spaces and implementing more policies encouraging use of recyclable materials and zero-emission transportation vehicles.