In January 2020, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) declared the marine sector will have to reduce sulphur emissions by over 80% by switching to lower sulphur fuels below 0.5%. However, large vessels berthing at The Breakwater District at Ogden Point have already been required to have emissions less than 0.1% since 2015 as a part of the North America Emission Control Area (ECA). To comply with emission control policy, the cruise industry continues to make investments updating ships, either through using more efficient fuels or retrofitting with onboard exhaust gas cleaning technology. As a result, sulphur dioxide emissions and impacts to air quality have been significantly reduced since 2015.
There remain significant actions to be taken by our organization and our partners in order to reach the emission targets set out by government and international organizations. We have recently updated our port’s infrastructure to be able to host larger ships. These newer ships have updated emission control efficiencies that produce fewer emissions per passenger. Additionally, we are diligently working with our voluntary certification programs, specialist consultants, government, and cruise partners to identify, track, and reach emission targets.
We are proudly Climate Smart Certified for our operations since joining the program in 2012. Climate Smart is a social enterprise based in Vancouver that enables organizations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen their businesses and build a resilient economy. Through this program, we have been able to measure our emissions, set targets towards meaningful emission reductions, and track our achieved reductions through time.
In 2019, Synergy Enterprises provided the GVHA an emissions inventory report for our port facility that covers an eight-year period from 2010 to 2018. Major findings from the report were that though cruise visitors increased by 45% since 2010, Greenhouse gases (GHG) from terminal activities increased by 19%. During this period, emissions per passenger went down 18% partly due to increases in vessel size and efficiencies in cruise ship technology. Emissions of Criteria Air Contaminants such as NOx and SOx have decreased by 41% and 59% respectively, per passenger.
The report identified and enumerated areas where we can strategically target reductions. Importantly, the majority of emissions are released while hoteling, when ships are moored but running generators. The total hoteling time of cruise ships at the Victoria Cruise Terminal at The Breakwater District has doubled over the last eight years. In response, we have commissioned an engineering assessment on the feasibility of increasing our shore power capacity and other solutions to reduce these emissions.
James Bay Air Quality Monitoring
Since 2011, our organization, in partnership with the BC Ministry of Environment, Vancouver Island Health Authority has provided funding to monitor air quality for ambient Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) levels in James Bay.
The James Bay environmental air monitoring station has not had any elevated readings in more than two years, and SOx emissions remain well below recommended safe levels.
In 2020, the station was shut down due to the decline in SOx emissions. Working with the BC Ministry of Environment, we have implemented new PM2.5 monitoring stations, which data are available in real time here.