Canada has a vast marine transportation sector which is the foundation of much of the country's economic prosperity. Whether it's getting commodities to international markets, importing or exporting goods, or welcoming visitors to our world-class coastal tourism destinations - marine transportation helps make it happen. Like all transportation, the marine mode wants to reduce its environmental impact, especially greenhouse gas emissions.
Canada wants to support the marine industry's move to net-zero emissions. We're working with our colleagues at the International Maritime Organization on goals and measures, and will help review its initial greenhouse gas strategy in 2023. Canada is committed to pursuing zero emissions targets for the international shipping sector. We signed the Declaration on Zero Emission Shipping by 2050 in April 2022, and support the Green Shipping Challenge.
Indigenous leadership and knowledge are critical to achieving Canada's climate change goals in the marine sector, and First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples involvement is central to advancing reconciliation and self-determination.
In Canada, the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act clearly states our commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Act also created a legally binding process to set 5-year national emissions-reduction targets and develop credible, science-based emissions reduction plans to reach these targets. We released our 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan in March 2022 where we committed to reduce emissions by 40 to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030. The plan recognizes that reaching our climate goals will require work from all transportation modes, including the marine sector.
As part of this plan, we committed to:
- developing a national action plan to help the marine sector to reduce emissions
- “greening” the federal marine fleet, which includes developing plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our fleets
- working with international partners to develop ways to reduce black carbon in the Arctic from international shipping, and
- investigating zero-emission technologies and clean fuels for other types of vehicles and for use in off-road equipment, including port equipment
To speed-up the move to zero-emission shipping, Canada signed the Clydebank Declaration in November 2021. This declaration commits Canada “to support the establishment of green shipping corridors – zero-emission maritime routes between 2 (or more) ports”. More specifically, we committed to:
- facilitating the establishment of partnerships with ports, operators and others along the value chain, to quickly reduce the shipping sector's greenhouse gas emissions through green shipping corridor projects
- identifying and exploring actions to address barriers to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- considering the role of green shipping corridors as we develop Canada's national action plan
- considering environmental impacts and sustainability as we pursue green shipping corridors
Reducing emissions by 2023 and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 in the marine sector is a process that requires different solutions, technologies or approaches depending on the type of vessel and where it operates. Green shipping corridors are an important part of this process as they can help speed up how we develop, test and use scalable net-zero fuels and technologies. They rely on voluntary participation, building on existing relationships to facilitate the identification, testing and adoption of new technologies and fuels in established maritime shipping routes. Green shipping corridors may also create opportunities where we can reduce other environmental impacts of marine transportation.
Canada has developed a national green shipping corridors framework to guide the people and organizations who are developing the green shipping corridors. To make sure that green shipping corridors are implemented consistently, our framework allows and empowers all parties to work together to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions and tackle the climate crisis. We know that there are many challenges to creating zero-emission routes but there also many ways to implement measures along specific corridors.
This work will showcase Canada's leadership in reducing the environmental impacts of our marine transportation sector, and help Canada stay competitive. Being at the forefront of reducing marine emissions will create new opportunities for Canadian clean tech and clean fuel innovators, and contribute to Canada's economic growth and prosperity.
This framework aligns with other government priorities, including developing Canada's Blue Economy Strategy and the Ocean's Protection Plan.
A path to net-zero for Canada's marine transportation sector by 2050
Reaching net-zero could be challenging due to expected growth in trade, the energy demands of shipping, and the uncertainty around the availability of clean fuels. But climate action can't wait, and we need to reduce emissions now. We will support actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by:
- supporting actions, technologies, clean fuels and infrastructures
that will result in real, measurable emissions reductions and that can
be implemented at scale to reduce emissions now while setting the path
to net-zero by 2050. This could include solutions at ports and
harbours or on vessels, like:
- net-zero emission fuels and/or energy pathways at ports or harbours (including electrification)
- net-zero emission technologies, fuels and/or energy for vessels
- access to shore power
- better energy efficiency
- improving operations
- making sure that solutions that reduce emissions don't create pollution elsewhere (like untreated discharges into the water, increased upstream emissions or other types of air contaminants), or pressure on food security
- understanding that some solutions may include permanently capturing and storing emissions as part of a greenhouse gas offset scheme
- supporting actions, technologies, clean fuels and infrastructures that will result in real, measurable emissions reductions and that can be implemented at scale to reduce emissions now while setting the path to net-zero by 2050. This could include solutions at ports and harbours or on vessels, like:
Reaching net-zero by implementing global commitments at the local level
To achieve net-zero emissions, we need to take actions at both the national and local levels and that are aligned with international efforts. This means:
- aligning approaches with other levels of government and global partners so it's easier to implement solutions and encourage investments, while respecting each partner's laws, regulations, policies and traditional practices
- ensuring all implicated parties are involved in the development of a green shipping corridor, including:
- provincial, territorial, local and Indigenous governments
- ports, harbours and terminal operators
- ship owners
- energy producers
- civil society organizations
- making sure actions respect Indigenous rights, consider Indigenous knowledge, and don't negatively affect Indigenous traditional activities, like hunting and fishing, and include Indigenous governments and communities as a partner
- making sure federal legislative and policy approaches are integrated, and use consistent definitions that are already used in federal laws and regulations
- understanding that green shipping corridors may be established entirely within Canada
Empowering industry to lead the move to net-zero
Stakeholders in each corridor need to work, engage and invest in the move to net-zero by 2050. We will support this work by:
- bringing key stakeholders together to share information and best practices, identify corridors, or learn about key gaps and barriers early
- managing regulatory approvals for trials and prototyping of new technologies or processes, when possible
- offering support so that the net-zero technologies and fuels that are trialed can meet emerging domestic and international standards
- finding ways to provide certainty to industry and to support investments, or to affect desired behaviours
- leading by example by greening federal marine fleet operations and collaborating with industry to increase the availability and affordability of net-zero solutions (like low-carbon intensity fuels)
Credibility of success relies on effective measurement and communication of progress
Sharing information and data transparency are key to getting credible and valid results and earning the public's trust. As such, participants in a green shipping corridor commit to:
- collecting and tracking data via effective and reliable methods and metrics that use a recognized “well-to-wake” lifecycle assessment method
- working together to establish key targets and report publicly on progress towards meeting them
- aligning each green shipping corridor's greenhouse gas emission targets with national targets
- sharing data and information and building on best practices, while respecting the need for confidentiality for commercial or financial reasons
How could green shipping corridors be implemented?
This multi-step planning and development approach, developed by our international partners, could be a starting point for parties interested in developing a green shipping corridor.
Assess routes: Evaluate which routes (cargo, ports, destination) are the best place to focus resources.
Engage stakeholders: Identify and meet with relevant stakeholders. Define the scope, boundaries, metrics and the framework for analysis.
Assess feasibility: Study supply/demand of low-emission technologies, infrastrcuture and financing needs/availability.
Make sure the sector is ready and set baselines: Incorporate lifecycle-emissions estimates into equipment, materials, and fueling infrastructure into planning and development decisions. Set a baseline emissions inventory for port and/or vessel operations that can be publicly available and used to set emissions reduction targets.
Assess routes: Develop implementation plan: Work with stakeholders and local communities to develop a plan to meet emissions reduction targets.