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Panama Canal Step Closer to Carbon Neutral Future

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced improvements to its Green Connection Environmental Recognition Program which recognizes vessels that comply with the highest environmental performance standards.

The announcement was made on the heels of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC74) in London, where the Panama Canal participated.

As explained, enhancements are in line with the canal’s carbon reduction commitments, the IMO’s emissions reduction strategy and the Paris Agreement.

“With these improvements to our environmental and conservation initiatives, the Panama Canal solidifies its leadership in the adoption of carbon-reduction best practices,” Alexis Rodriguez, Panama Canal’s Environmental Protection Specialist, commented.

“The proposed updates will provide our customers a more comprehensive picture of their environmental contributions, encouraging them to continue implementing good practices in the reduction of emissions and their use of the Panama Canal’s Green Route.”

The Green Connection Environmental Recognition Program encourages the shipping industry to mitigate the environmental impact of its operations through an incentive-based system that includes the Green Connection Award, the Environmental Premium Ranking and the Emissions Calculator.

Starting in September 2019, the Emissions Calculator will feature georeferenced data to improve the quality and precision of the carbon emissions data of vessels transiting the waterway. The tool aims to give customers – and the canal – clear insight into their carbon footprint to incentivize environmental stewardship and reduce greenhouse gases (GHG).

The Environmental Premium Ranking will be a factor in the use of low-carbon fuels and environmentally conscious transit operations starting mid-September. This ranking affords customers with high environmental efficiency standards the opportunity to improve their position within the Panama Canal’s Customer Ranking System.

The canal will also bring about updates to other carbon-reduction and watershed conservation initiatives such as the Environmental Economic Incentives Program and the Panama Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS).

Given the shorter traveling distance and larger capacity offered, the Panama Canal consistently reduces fuel consumption and emissions, generating less GHG compared to other routes. Most recently, the waterway registered historic transit milestones by Qatargas’ Al Safliya Q-Flex carrier, the world’s second-largest LNG tanker class, and Evergreen’s Triton, the largest containership in dimension and container cargo capacity to pass through the Expanded Canal since it opened in 2016.

Of the more than 50 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) reduced since the inauguration of the Expanded Canal, the Neopanamax locks are responsible for the reduction of more than 35 million tons of CO2. Since its opening in 1914, the Panama Canal has helped reduce more than 750 million tons of CO2.

Source: World Maritime News
Image Courtesy: Panama Canal Authority

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