This week, the Panama Canal’s contributions to the reduction of emissions from the international shipping industry were presented during the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) 70th Marine Environment Protection Committee session (MEPC 70). Held in London, MEPC engages influential stakeholders from across the maritime community to discuss the energy efficiency of ships and reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The 70th session focused on the prevention and control of pollution from the shipping industry, which negatively impacts the environment.
During its participation at MEPC 70, Panama presented a document titled “Contributions of the Panama Canal to Reducing Emissions from International Shipping (MEPC 70/7/1),” which highlights the efforts of the Panama Canal’s Green Route Strategy and how it contributes to customers’ positive initiatives and technical measures to help reduce their carbon dioxide (CO2) and GHG emissions.
One such initiative has been the Canal’s development of software that calculates a vessel’s estimated CO2 emissions released during the transit of a particular route. This tool-which factors in ship type, cargo volume, mode of transport, and voyage origin and destination-allows shippers to consider and select the most environmentally sustainable route.
Since opening in 1914, the Panama Canal’s strategic geographic location has enabled vessels to shorten the distance and duration of their voyages compared to alternate routes, thus reducing costs and emissions. In total, the waterway is estimated to have saved more than 650 million tons of CO2 emissions over the course of its 102 year history.
The new Expanded Canal will lessen shippers’ environmental impact even further. In addition to providing the same shorter route, the Expanded Canal’s wider, longer and deeper lane allows vessels to transit with greater cargo carrying capacity, requiring less cargo movements, thereby further reducing costs and CO2 emissions. It is estimated the Expansion will save an additional estimated 160 million tons of emissions in its first 10 years of operation.
At a side event during Wednesday’s session, the Panama Canal honored the IMO with its Green Connection Award, another of the newly established initiatives under the Green Route Strategy. Launched in July 2016, the award is given in recognition of customers and vessels that exceed the environmental standards set by the IMO, and was uniquely presented to the IMO during MEPC 70 for the organization’s leading example and strong commitment to reducing emissions and preserving the environment.
“By delivering against Green Connection Recognition Program, the Panama Canal aims to not only to do our part to contribute to the reduction of emissions globally, but to also promote customers’ application of energy-efficient ship design,” said Panama Canal Environmental Specialist Alexis Rodriguez.
“The Panama Canal would like to thank the IMO for its commitments in the reduction of emissions from the shipping industry and for the protection and conservation of the environment.”