Port of Long Beach records fall in annual air pollution emissions

Air pollution emissions at the Port of Long Beach decreased in all categories in 2022.

With last year’s results, the Californian port said it had met all the goals of the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan a year ahead of schedule.

The port’s annual emissions inventory report, presented to the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners yesterday (11 September), found that compared to 2005, diesel particulates are down 91%, nitrogen oxides have decreased 63%, and sulphur oxides have decreased 97%, all while cargo container volume increased 36%. (Progress for the annual inventory is always compared against 2005, the year before the original San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) was adopted.)

This year’s inventory also represents improvement over the 2021 study, when, as previously reported, the COVID-19 pandemic and global supply chain congestion resulted in higher emissions in San Pedro Bay. Compared to last year, in 2022 diesel particulate matter was down 28%, nitrogen oxides 28% and sulphur oxides 7%, even though container traffic dipped only 3%.

Greenhouse gas emissions were down 1% in 2022 compared to the 2005 baseline, although the category was down 16% compared to the 2021 survey.

The Port of Long Beach pointed to ‘several salient factors’ that had impacted activity, efficiency, operations and thus emissions in the 2022 study year. A decline in COVID-19-related congestion as well as programmes introduced to ease congestion, such as vessel queuing, reduced the number of ships waiting at anchor. Additionally, initiatives to make landside operations greener also continued to have an effect, with 19% of cargo-handling equipment at terminals now zero-emissions, as did the Port’s Clean Truck Program and the ongoing transition to cleaner trucks to move cargo.

Long Beach Harbor Commission President, Bobby Olvera Jr, said: ‘We’re proud of our green programmes and commitment to sustainability. This emissions inventory is a feather in the Port’s cap, and we’re celebrating, but our sights are on the ultimate goals we’ve set, including zero-emissions cargo handling by 2030 and zero-emissions trucking by 2035.’

Port of Long Beach CEO, Mario Cordero, added: ‘The Port of Long Beach’s impressive record of environmental achievement is widely known. But we couldn’t accomplish all that we have without the close cooperation of our industry partners, labour and each part of the supply chain who does business with us. Everyone deserves a great deal of credit for their willingness to do the right thing for the planet, maintaining that commitment through some challenging recent years, and helping us reach these green milestones.’

As reported last week, emissions at the neighbouring Port of Los Angeles also decreased year-on-year.

Image: Shutterstock

Rhys Berry