Barcelona Container Port Photo: Davies / CC-BY-SA

The Port of Barcelona is a participating incentive provider in the World Ports Climate Initiative's Environmental Ship Index.

Mitigation and moving towards low carbon waterborne transport infrastructure

All sectors must play their part in climate change mitigation. The waterborne transport infrastructure sector is no exception.

Port and waterway infrastructure and operations typically account for only a very small proportion of the total greenhouse gas emissions associated with the shipment of a particular consignment. The most significant proportion by far is associated with the sea voyage, and a varying amount with connecting transport.

It is nonetheless important that the owners, operators and users of waterborne transport infrastructure take steps to minimise the emissions associated with their activities if they are to contribute to the ‘less-than-2-degrees’ pathway.

The associations represented on the the Navigating a Changing Climate Partnership recognise the importance – and the urgency – of implementing effective mitigation measures and of moving towards low carbon infrastructure.

Coalition members further acknowledge the need for innovation alongside conventional emissions-reduction measures: for example initiatives aimed at improving integration to increase energy efficiency or at creating carbon sinks in coastal areas by Working with Nature.

As with other sectors, such innovation has the potential to bring associated social, employment and economic opportunities.

Friday, 29 April 2022 16:33

Dealing with climate change uncertainties - PIANC Technical Note published

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The recent IPCC report on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (IPCC, 2022) highlights the ‘dire consequences’ of failing to adapt to climate change.  The IPCC makes clear that urgent action is needed to adapt infrastructure – including port and navigation infrastructure and operations – and to strengthen their resilience.

But climate change emphasises existing uncertainties and introduces new ones ... and these uncertainties have potentially significant ramifications for those involved in navigation infrastructure design, evaluation and investment.  What steps can therefore be taken to accommodate these uncertainties while avoiding unintended adverse consequences such as increased future vulnerability, diminished well-being or elevated greenhouse gas emissions?

This new PIANC PTG CC Technical Note, downloadable at aims to help project owners, designers and financiers deal with climate change uncertainties – not only in relation to the selection, design and evaluation of options for new waterborne transport infrastructure, but also the maintenance or modification of existing assets.

It explains that future climate scenarios can be used, with sensitivity testing, to accommodate uncertainties such as how quickly changes in temperature, precipitation, sea level, wind, waves and associated physical processes will take place; their magnitude; and whether and when critical thresholds will be crossed.   It cautions against relying only on past data to predict low probability future events for long-life or high investment infrastructure, and explains the value of considering unlikely-but-plausible scenarios when making major, long-term investments. It also stresses the need to prepare for the ‘unprecedented’, including for joint occurrences and cascading failures.

The Note offers an insight into the critical role of adaptive and flexible solutions including ‘no-regret’ options, and it highlights why non-structural (e.g., operational, institutional) as well as structural interventions should be assessed. It focuses on the use of monitoring to inform decision-making (adaptive management). Finally, it stresses the importance of selecting option evaluation methods that recognise and accommodate uncertainty.

This Technical Note complements and supplements PIANC’s Working Group 178 report, Climate Change Adaptation Planning for Ports and Inland Waterways (2020) available at 

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