How the Environmental Ship Index (ESI) aims to clean up Europe's Ports

By Freddie Pierce
Try to keep up with SCD on this one, okay? Six European ports operating under the WCPI, an important arm of the IAPH, recently teamed to create the ES...

Try to keep up with SCD on this one, okay?

Six European ports operating under the WCPI, an important arm of the IAPH, recently teamed to create the ESI in an attempt lower the GHG emissions—even further than the IMO standard—at all member shipping ports and its operators.

Did you get all of that? Don’t sweat it. Either did we the first time we read it. But a large part of our job here at Supply Chain Digital (SCD) is to report on the happenings of these acronymic organizations.

If you read the title, you probably deduced pretty easily that the ESI is the Environmental Shipping Index. If you pay attention to the news at all, then you also probably knew that GHG stands for Green House Gases. And since this is a supply chain publication, you also get the benefit of the doubt on knowing that IMO stands for International Maritime Organization. Word association with the last two acronyms, however, will get you nowhere.

What is the WPCI? Who are the IAPH? We picked up a little hint from our friends at IHOP when we first started researching these organizations. If the “I” in an acronym is at the beginning of a title, then it probably stands for “International” and if it’s at the end, it probably stands for “Initiative.”

But does that give you any further insight into what those acronyms are all about? One’s an Initiative and one’s International. Got any reasonable guesses? Alright fine, we’ll just tell you.

The International Association of Ports and Harbors is a global alliance of ports around the world that was established in 1955. Today, it represents some 220 ports and 130 port-related companies of about 90 countries. Member ports within the IAPH handle 90 percent of the world container traffic and over 60 percent of the world maritime trade.

The IAPH officially launched the World Port Climate Initiative at a global summit at the Port of Los Angeles in 2008. Participating members agreed to commit to a plan that jointly reduces the threat of global climate change from a port authority perspective. The goal of the summit was to deepen the support for the WPCI among the world’s ports, promote information sharing and establish a framework for CO2 footprint inventory and management.

More recently, six member European ports teamed to create the Environmental Ship Index in accordance with the WPCI. Port authorities from LeHavre, Bremen, Hamburg, Antwerp, Rotterdam and Amsterdam launched the ESI in November last year. Implementation of the ESI in the last few months has been steady, but it hasn’t been realized globally just yet. The target European ports, though, are more interested in providing a framework that other Port Authorities will be able to follow in similar indexing efforts. The research, studies, strategies and actions taken to reduce GHG emissions by the European ports are being documented. Eventually, there will be an ESI methodology that all IAPH members will be able to follow.

Here’s a brief overview of how the ESI works: It’s a voluntary system that helps improve the environmental performance of sea vessels by distinguishing ships in their environmental performance regarding air pollutants. It gives points for ships performing over current IMO standards. In short, the ESI ranks a ship on a scale from 0 to 100 where a score of 0 indicates an “underachiever”, or a ship that meets the IMO standard, but doesn’t exceed it. Conversely, a score of 100 would indicate that a ship has no emissions at all. Obviously, no one is near 100 yet. The best scores from the implementation at the six European ports are between 20 and 30. The Mediterranean Shipping Company is the owner of the highest ESI-rated ship at 31.1. Shipping giant Maersk has over 600 vessels in its fleet and the few ships that have been indexed so far hover just above the IMO standard. The Cornelia Maersk has the highest ESI at 15.7, but the average score for the Maersk fleet is right around 5.3.

In no way, shape or form is the ESI a finished product. It’s almost as if the ESI is on beta release and the European target ports are the first testers. It’s not perfect, nor is it the final solution to our climate change problems. But for an industry that emits more pollutants than most of the other industries combined, the ESI is a start down that road we call Sustainability. It’s a long, windy road with a few dead ends, but there is certainly light at the end of it. It will probably require help from a few more organizations with catchy acronyms, but we’ll get there sooner or later.

Well, hopefully its sooner or it will likely be the EOTW as we know it.

This article looks way cooler in our February edition of Supply Chain Digital. Check it out HERE!


Featured Articles

Pakistan Toyota manufacturer is supply chain cautionary tale

The latest closure of Pakistan automaker Indus Motor Company -- maker of Toyota cars -- highlights the need for a robust supply risk management strategy

Top 10 supply chain automation companies

Top 10 supply chain hardware and software automation companies and solutions include ABB, DENSO and Microsoft Supply Chain Platform & Cognizant

Grasp nettle on circular supply chains, Gartner urges

Anne Michelle Avolio, Senior Director Analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain Practice, urges C-suiters to change their mindsets on circular supply chains

DHL fuels F1 net zero drive with biofuel truck fleet


Global rail, sea & road logistics news round-up


London gearing up for top supply chain and procurement event

Digital Supply Chain