The Port of San Diego has announced significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants produced by maritime operations in San Diego Bay, achieved in part through the efforts of its Green Port program.

The Green Port program seeks to reduce environmental impacts of business operations and improve the health of San Diego Bay.

A report released this month described the progress in reducing air emissions from the Port of San Diego. Greenhouse gas emissions from non-military ocean-going vessels, harbor craft, locomotives, on-road vehicles and cargo handling equipment were reduced by 42 percent in 2012 compared to the baseline year of 2006. Additionally, other harmful air pollutants were also significantly reduced, including nitrogen oxides by 50 percent, diesel particulate matter by 75 percent, and sulfur dioxide by 94 percent.

After the baseline measurements were taken in 2006, the Port put into place emissions control strategies to reduce the largest sources of emissions from its maritime operations. A Vessel Speed Reduction Program was developed in 2009 and a Clean Truck Program was implemented in 2010. Additionally, shore power was installed at the Cruise Ship Terminal in 2010, reducing emissions from berthed cruise ships.

“By reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants, we have a positive impact on climate change while also improving air quality for local communities. This environmental monitoring shows that our strategies have been effective as we strive for ‘green’ maritime operations,” said Chairman Bob Nelson. “This is good news for the residents in the neighborhoods around the Port as well as for the San Diego Bay businesses that are voluntarily working to do their part to improve air quality.”

State regulations mandating engine upgrades and the use of cleaner fuels greatly contributed to the reductions of maritime emissions. Another important factor leading to decreased emissions was the recent recession, which resulted in less economic activity and fewer vessel calls. Overall, maritime activities are cleaner than they used to be. For example, ocean-going vessels produced less emissions on a per-vessel basis during 2012, compared to 2006.

Terminal Lift, a Port business involved in loading and unloading products, has invested in converting the company’s reach stacker, used to move cargo, from diesel to electric power. The company also converted diesel semi-trucks to 100 percent electric. “As electric vehicles, they eliminate noise and smoke. It satisfies everyone’s needs, and we get fewer complaints from residents,” said Larry Schmitz, owner of Terminal Lift.

The Port continues to implement emission reduction strategies, such as the installation of shore power at its San Diego cargo facility, the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal. The shore power system began operating in early 2014, immediately reducing emissions from berthed cargo ships.

The Port adopted a Climate Action Plan (CAP) in 2013. The CAP provides a long-term strategic vision for the Green Port Program, and calls for 10 percent reductions of all greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 25 percent by 2035 compared to 2006 numbers. The CAP’s Transportation and Land Use category has a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 62,000 metric tons (MT) by 2020. The Port is ahead of schedule in meeting its goals.

According to the report summary, the greenhouse gas reductions of 42,000 MT observed in the 2012 inventory for maritime-related activities already accounts for more than 68 percent of the Transportation and Land Use goal. The Port intends to remain vigilant in its efforts to reduce emissions to ensure that growth and economic development are coupled with efficient use of resources.

The next maritime emissions inventory will be conducted in accordance with the CAP implementation schedule in 2018 based on 2017 operations