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There are an increasing number of options open to ports looking to curb or even eradicate emissions, finds Dave MacIntyre.

It is no longer enough for ports to be seen to be making efforts to lower their carbon footprints – they have to prove they are doing so. But how should a port approach the issue of having its emissions verified?

Ports of Auckland in New Zealand might be cutting a path for others to follow in terms of verification. It has a goal to become zero-emissions by 2040 and has completed the first step by accurately measuring its emissions and developing a plan to reduce them.

It partnered with Enviro-Mark Solutions and is using the Certified Emissions Measurement and Reduction Scheme (CEMARS) to measure and manage greenhouse gas emissions. Enviro-Mark Solutions is a wholly-owned subsidiary of a New Zealand Government-owned Crown Research Institute, with over 300 clients worldwide.

Auckland is the first New Zealand port to become CEMARS-certified and has measured the direct and indirect emissions associated with its business and subsidiaries, including diesel and electricity usage and air travel. They show that in the 2017 financial year Ports of Auckland generated 16,208.47 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e). It has now created an Emissions Management and Reduction Plan which sets projects and interim targets through to 2040.

The move towards zero emissions began in 2016 when the company started work on a sustainability strategy for the port. “We wanted to set a goal which was ambitious, but not impossible,” says spokesperson Matt Ball. “Moving to zero emissions will be challenging – zero-emission tugs and straddles haven’t been invented yet – but setting the goal is the first step toward achieving it.”

Next came the partnership with Enviro-Mark Solutions to measure carbon footprint and develop an emissions management plan. This provided expert guidance to help the port identify what data was needed to measure its emissions inventory, and then audit it to ensure accuracy.

“Initially we wanted to develop a GHG inventory that aligned with the requirements of the World Ports Climate Initiative Carbon Footprinting for Ports (WCPI). Enviro-Mark showed us that their CEMARS aligned with the WCPI guidelines,” says Mr Ball.

CEMARS reach

Enviro-Mark Solutions chief executive Dr Ann Smith says CEMARS is currently available in 17 countries and is recognised in over 60. It has hundreds of certified programme members in Australia, Chile, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. The average carbon reduction from New Zealand-based clients who use CEMARS is 23%.

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” says Dr Smith. “The CEMARS certification programme supports organisations through the measurement process and follows the ISO standard for measuring carbon so that the organisation can be confident that their footprint is in accordance with best practice.”

There are four key stages involved in the CEMARS certification – Measure, Manage, Verify and Market. Measuring with bespoke software enables the calculation of GHG emissions from various sources to form the organisation’s inventory. Managing helps the organisation set achievable goals and reduction targets. Verifying involves an independent audit to confirm the result is complete, accurate and meets certification requirements.

The final step is marketing, making sure that all stakeholders know about what the company has achieved. “We support each organisation to make sure that they leverage their certification as much as possible,” says Dr Smith. “Certification means that they can make robust claims with confidence.”

GHG reporting

European-based Verifavia is a leading worldwide independent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions verification body and works closely with Setec, a large French engineering firm specialising in the construction of airports and ports, to offer GHG emissions reporting and verification for ports worldwide.

Verification audits are carried out according to ISO 14064 and audits also follow the GHG Protocol.

Julien Dufour, chief executive of Verifavia and Regis Hellot, Partner, Ports & Airports, Setec, say that ports investigating the options for getting measurements and obtaining verifications should identify their organisational boundaries, defining the businesses and operations that account for and report GHG emissions. The GHG Protocol identifies the approaches for these boundaries – equity share, operational control and financial control.

Next is identifying operational boundaries, listing direct sources of emissions at the port, energy generated off-site and other indirect sources of emissions, in order to prepare the GHG footprint. This is a very useful tool to decide where to focus reduction efforts.

Direct port sources may include owned or leased vehicles, buildings (boilers, furnaces, etc.), owned and operated cargo-handling equipment and any other emissions sources owned and operated by terminal concessions.

Indirect sources may include port-purchased electricity, steam, heat or cooling for port-owned buildings. Other indirect sources may include tenant operations and include ships, trucks, cargo-handling equipment, rail locomotives, harbour craft, tenant buildings, tenant-purchased electricity, off-site waste management, and tenant employee travel.

It is necessary to decide which GHG emissions will be covered. According to the GHG Protocol, there are six GHGs that may be included in a GHG footprint – CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, and SF6. In general, GHG footprints at least include CO2 emissions.

The required data must then be independently verified and a carbon management plan developed which includes objectives and actions for emissions reductions.

“Lastly, the port can also include the port third parties and stakeholders... and set up a Stakeholder Engagement Plan. In order to do that, and considering there are potentially a lot of actors involved directly and indirectly, it is necessary to organise workgroups of stakeholders first to collect the data and then identify reasonable actions that might be taken alone or conjointly,” say Messrs Dufour and Hellot.

Verifavia and Setec say high-level executive support is generally key to the successful development of the carbon management initiative, and it is important to appoint a person responsible for the development of the carbon footprint within the organisation.

Watching brief

Increasingly, organisations are taking a closer interest in what ports are doing in terms of emissions.

The Climate Registry (TCR) is a non-profit organisation governed by US states and Canadian provinces and territories. It designs and operates voluntary and compliance GHG reporting programmes globally, and assists organisations in measuring, reporting and verifying the carbon in their operations in order to manage and reduce it.

Its GHG reporting programme requires independent third-party verification for organisations who wish to publish their GHG inventory on TCR’s publicly-available database and to attain the recognition of becoming Climate Registered™.

TCR’s Michelle Zilinskas says that after completing their emissions inventory, an organisation will select an accredited verification body which must demonstrate it has no conflict of interest with the client.

A verification and sampling plan will be designed based on the areas of the inventory and emissions sources which have the highest risk for errors. Verification bodies will sample for errors and may visit one or more sites to interview personnel, check records, and observe the emission sources on site.

The client is responsible for providing backup calculations and access to key personnel involved with compiling the data. The verification body will usually identify errors, which the client has the opportunity to correct.

Once the verification body has concluded that the inventory is free from material misstatement, it will produce a verification statement attesting to their assessment, and TCR publishes the inventory at https://www.CRIS4.org.


Energy reduction saves money, so projects that deliver a reduction also deliver a commercial benefit. Auckland’s LED lighting project, for example, has a payback time of three years as the port has cut its lighting bills in half.

Ports of Auckland is also replacing old diesel and petrol vehicles with electric equivalents as they become available. It will review the process for refuelling tugs and is also looking for staff to turn off engines rather than letting them idle.

Enviro-Mark Solutions says other popular options include biofuel, teleconferencing instead of travelling, energy-efficient tyres, route planning/scheduling efficient running times for machinery and vehicles, and switching to lower-carbon and/or carbon-zero certified suppliers.

Verifavia and Setec’s suggestions include electrification of selected highway lanes to supply trucks with electric power; replacing and repowering older, dirtier engines to deploy zero-emission technologies; outfitting cranes’ generators with a fuel-saving system to reduce engine idle speed; requiring all trucks servicing the port to meet most recent standards; and adopting vessel speed reductions to reduce emissions from vessels during their approach and departure from a port.

Port Strategy

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