Charging polluters in the Port of Vancouver

Container terminal in VancouverFrom the Vancouver Sun:

Starting April 1, ships that meet a gold standard of emission controls will pay $0.057 per gross registered tonne [to put in at the Port of Vancouver], down from the previous fee of $0.077. Ships without any discount will see their fees rise to $0.097 per GRT. Ships that can attain a silver or bronze ranking will be charged $0.067 and $0.077 per GRT respectively.

“The differentiated rates … are designed to provide a wide variety of technology and fuel options to vessels in order to promote and build awareness around a number of alternative emission reduction practices,” the Vancouver Port Authority said in a news release. “The gold air emission standard is at a level that will be attained by leading-edge vessels, while the bronze standard is designed to be achievable by many vessels that currently call in the Port of Vancouver.”

The Sun reports that the difference between the gold standard and no standard could be about $2,600 for a typical container ship, and quotes a shipping-industry spokesman saying he doesn’t expect the incentive to shape up will be enormous, but it might provide a critical extra push for companies that already considering upgrading their vessels.

This is an obvious and smart move for the Port Authority, a federal institution with a lot of autonomy. Pollution from vessels docking in Vancouver is a major issue in the Lower Mainland, and one federal regulators can’t do a whole lot about, given the international (indeed, in an era when landlocked countries can have shipping registries, practically a-national) character of the shipping industry. But Vancouver’s a very desirable port, and it can certainly say hey, if you want to use our facilities, you have to pay up for the pollution you leave behind.

Dropping the fees for ships that meet the higher standard is particularly important — they deserve a reward, at the same time as slackers are being punished.

Photo from the Vancouver Port Authority website.

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