Members of Canada’s Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC) are looking to explore the potential for a multi-stakeholder initiative to establish a new Canadian green shipping corridor in the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence waterway.

green shipping corridor
Courtesy of Chamber of Marine Commerce

As explained, the industry could collaborate with government and research facilities to create a green shipping corridor in the Great Lakes where recent practices would be demonstrated. This would include the use of cleaner energy sources being put to the test and, as viable, used to reduce carbon.

Ships and ports will require investment to expand the use of these transition fuels, as well as develop new propulsion technologies.

“Marine is already the greenest mode with all domestic vessels accounting for only 0.59% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2019,” Bruce Burrows, CMC’s president/CEO, said.

“Moving more cargo on inland ships offers the opportunity to significantly reduce overall emissions from the transportation sector — 68% of which is caused by trucks and cars.”

Much has already been accomplished, as Canadian shipowners have invested over $2 billion in the latest eco ships, which provide an immediate and substantial reduction in GHG emissions from the previous generation of ships.

The dedicated green corridor, on a port-to-port basis, would involve all parts of the marine supply chain. This would showcase, expand and test new technologies, infrastructure and policies, while establishing benchmarks and measuring carbon-reduction progress. For example, on the ships’ side, this could substantiate the feasibility of cleaner energy sources, such as hydroelectric power, biofuels, and possibly hydrogen, methanol or ammonia, within the geographical and operational realities of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region.

“Our industry is committed to net zero emissions by 2050, but this ambitious target cannot be achieved without government support,” Burrows emphasized.

“We’re encouraging government to become proactive, so we put funding towards lasting climate change solutions rather than reactive emergency relief.”

North Atlantic’s 1st green shipping corridor

Last November, the Canadian Port of Montreal and the Belgian Port of Antwerp signed a cooperation agreement to support the creation of the first green shipping corridor in the North Atlantic.

The two ports intend to facilitate the trade of green fuels and the supply of renewable fuels and clean technologies to vessels.

Under the deal, each port is to mobilize its respective public and private sector partners to identify, assess, develop and/or adopt shared or complementary infrastructures and other solutions to establish an initially low- and ultimately zero-carbon emission route.

The agreement between Montreal and Antwerp was signed at the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) on climate change. During the event, nineteen countries also signed a declaration to establish green shipping corridors — zero-emission maritime routes between two or more ports — in an effort to help the shipping sector decarbonize.

The specific green maritime routes will be decarbonized from end to end, including both land-side infrastructure and vessels.

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