Here's a novel idea: if you want to reduce emissions at sea, make it worth ships' while.
To reduce emissions nitrous and sulfur oxides, the Port Authority of Antwerp said on Wednesday that it would reward "clean ships" calling to port with a 10 percent discount on tonnage dues.
The measure, which will begin July 1, follows an initiative between the ports of Le Havre, Bremen, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Antwerp -- all major shipping zones in northwestern Europe -- to enact an "Environmental Ship Index" where shippers register their ships to be rated (on a scale of 0 to 100) on the basis of environmental impact, as measured by fuel consumption and emissions.
(To date, more than 250 ships have been rated.)
By indexing the ships, the ports have a quantifiable way to reward greener shipping companies. As such, Antwerp will grant its 10 percent discount -- applicable for at least three years, that's real money -- to any ships with a score of 31 or more.
But change is hard, so the Port Authority slipped in this clause for 2011: "If fewer than 25 seagoing ships qualify for the discount, then the Port Authority will reward the 25 vessels with the highest ESI score." Scores will be revisited every three months.
A more sustainable port? It's all about leverage. And with international standards, low-sulphur fuel and onshore power supplies, perhaps Europe's port cities will be able to ensure that their waterfronts are as beautiful as the architecture in their city centers.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com