Environmental Leadership the Canadian Way - Green Marine

Published Feb 6, 2013 12:45 PM by Wendy Laursen

An industry united on environmental issues will have greater impact than individual companies defining their own goals, says Daniel Côté, environmental advisor for Canadian shipping company Transport Desgagnés. It’s not just big talk for Côté.

Transport Desgagnés operates a fleet of 17 vessels carrying bulk liquid, bulk dry cargo and general cargo and is a participant in the Green Marine program, a joint Canada-U.S. initiative founded in 2007 that targets environmental issues including greenhouse gases, cargo waste management, community impacts and environmental leadership. While Green Marine is a voluntary initiative, participants agree to undergo a rigorous external audit every two years performed by Lloyd’s Registry Quality Assurance.

“Transport Desgagnés is committed to the improvement of its environmental footprint, which includes air emissions,” says Côté. “Even if marine transportation is already the best mode to move goods from one place to another, the industry wants to be proactive. As an early participant in the Green Marine program, Desgagnés thinks it is the best way to express its environmental leadership.”

Environment Canada

The company is supporting Environment Canada in short-term research projects to study the emission rates from marine vessels operating in Canadian waters. The vessels are studied while under way and sampled at different engine loads and fuel configurations, if available (various sulfur levels or intermediate and distillate fuels), for comparison purposes. The aim is to evaluate emerging strategies for improving marine vessel emission profiles, to determine current real-world emission factors and inventories for marine vessels operating in Canadian waters, and to develop sampling methodologies for quantifying marine vessel emission rates.

Typically, the main engine and an auxiliary engine are sampled for gaseous and particulate matter emissions. In addition, specialized instruments are used to look at black carbon emission rates and particle size distributions and number concentrations.

The studies are being undertaken by the Air Quality Research Division of Environment Canada, supported by the Canadian government’s Clean Air Regulatory Agenda program and other government and private sector funding. Project partners such as Transport Desgagnés provide the vessels for the study along with technical support and accommodations for the test teams.

“Motivation for shipowners in Canada to participate is often two-fold,” says Mark McCurdy, project engineer from Environment Canada. “One is to obtain accurate information on the fuel consumption of their engines under different operating conditions, and second is to obtain engine exhaust emissions information to support their environmental management programs. In addition, project partners are generally participants in programs such as Green Marine that encourage environmental stewardship ahead of regulations.”

Côté sees participation as part of Green Marine’s continuous improvement approach to enhancing the environmental footprint of members. “With that goal in mind, we are committed to giving the researchers access to our vessels. This research also permits the company to confirm the emissions coefficients used to calculate air emissions from fuel consumption. As the leader in Canadian Arctic supply, Desgagnés wants to better define the real impact of its activities on the Arctic environment and then fix new targets of improvement to continuously reduce that impact,” says Côté.

Halfway There

There are currently over 65 ship owners, port authorities, terminals and shipyards in Canada and the U.S. participating in the Green Marine program. Côté’s belief in group action is reflected in Canada’s recently published “Emissions Trends 2012” report. Canada signed the Copenhagen Accord in December 2009 and committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. The report indicates the country is halfway toward meeting that target.

Green Marine launched a mentoring program in October 2012 to offer new participants additional support for implementing the Green Marine environmental program by pairing them up with experienced participants who are familiar with the process. Côté is one of ten mentors ready to assist others. – MarEx

If you would like to propose viewpoints or topics for future articles, please contact Wendy Laursen at [email protected].

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.