The Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan remarked, “We shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us.” That’s proving to be true for the locally created Port Emissions Inventory Tool (PEIT) which is evolving into a worldwide application. A web version, the global online Port Emissions Inventory Tool (goPEIT) is in development, and will be available in the summer of 2016 to ports around the world. Its genesis can be traced to the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia (CoSBC) a decade ago, and its potential for shaping the environmental practices of ports everywhere is just being realized.
Rick Bryant, President of the Chamber at the time, vividly recalls the circumstances that spurred them to develop a new model for marine vessel emissions when the results of a flawed Vancouver emissions report for the year 2000 were released.
Photo above: PEIT reports activities and emissions according to two separate emission boundaries.
“We were painted as the bad guys. There were headlines about pollution in the port, so obviously we couldn’t just let this go by,” said Bryant. “The problem was pretty clear. There were some top-down estimates going on and assumptions that were incorrect.”
According to a report published by the Chamber, the 2000 Marine Emissions Inventory lacked detailed vessel activity and relied instead on rough estimates of emissions from global marine fuel sales data allocated to geographical regions. The “top-down” model was missing key parameters, such as the actual power of each engine on each vessel and the actual time spent in each throttle mode.
A more accurate “bottom-up” methodology would have to be developed. Bryant headed up the operation to collect the necessary data for the vessel characteristics and the activity data which could be multiplied by the latest air pollutant emissions factors.
“We got involved with the Greater Vancouver Regional District, Environment Canada, the Coast Guard, the coast pilots, shipping lines and their agents, and the Port — we brought in all the players to see what we could do to make things better,” Bryant said. What was first needed was a means of capturing data on the movement of ships making B.C. port calls. The Canadian Coast Guard provided the solution, he recalled.