Air, Energy and Climate Action

We lead a suite of initiatives that reduce air emissions associated with key port activities: ships, trucks, cargo-handling equipment and terminal activities. Our approach is to collaboratively work with industry and stakeholders in each sector to develop programs that respond to their unique operating context and meet industry leading environmental objectives.

Our approach to reducing emissions in each activity sector is guided by the following goals:

  • protect air quality through the reduction of criteria air contaminants such sulphur oxide, nitrous oxides, and particulate matter emissions
  • reduce port contributions to climate change through reduction in greenhouse gases, and develop coordinated climate change adaptation plans for infrastructure and ecosystems
  • promote a culture of continuous improvement and energy conservation throughout the port, with a focus on transitioning industry toward renewable energy and clean technologies
  • collaborate with government and industry on the development of goals and objectives, performance monitoring, and progress reporting

The following is an overview of our primary air, energy and climate action initiatives:

Clean air strategy

We have been partners with the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, along with government such as Environment Canada and Metro Vancouver, since 2007 to develop and implement a strategy called the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy. The program reduces port-related air emissions in the Puget Sound-Georgia Basin air shed. We published our first progress report on the 2013 Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy objectives in 2014. The strategy was established in 2007 with the ports of Tacoma and Seattle in partnership with a host of government stakeholders, including Environment Canada and Metro Vancouver.

Learn more about our clean air strategy.

Climate Smart

We partner with a Vancouver-based social enterprise, Climate Smart, to provide a training and certification program for our tenants. The program helps participants measure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, waste and costs, as well as communicate results to stakeholders. Participants share knowledge and practices to support others in the port-focused peer group. We cover 50 per cent of the participation cost. To-date, 15 participating port tenants are certified, reducing their annual greenhouse gas emissions by 4,250 tonnes, and achieving annual cost savings of $1,238,000.

Learn more about Climate Smart and review program results.


We promote and recognize cleaner ships in our harbour through our EcoAction program for ships. Ships obtain up to 47 per cent off harbour dues for implementing emissions reduction measures and other environmental practices. In 2009, the Canada Place cruise ship terminal became the first in Canada and third in the world to offer shore power for cruise ships, allowing ships to turn off their engines while in port.

Learn more about shore power installation and our EcoAction program for ships.

Cargo handling equipment

In 2015, the Port of Vancouver was the first port in Canada to have fees implemented reducing emissions of diesel equipment used in terminal operations. Older diesel engines without modern emissions controls produce fine particulate matter emissions that are harmful to human health. The Non-Road Diesel Emissions Program includes a fee applied to the operation of older, dirty equipment, as well as mandatory idle reduction policies, opacity restrictions, equipment labeling, reporting and auditing.

Learn more about the Non-Road Diesel Emissions Program and cargo handling equipment.


In 2008, the Port of Vancouver was the first port in Canada to have stringent environmental requirements for container drayage trucks to reduce air emissions. Our Truck License System includes environmental requirements that target engine age restrictions and idle reduction. Trucks manufactured after 2006 are significantly cleaner and more efficient, which is why we have been targeting 2007 engine emissions equivalency by 2017 – a target we are on track to meet.

Learn more our environmental programs for trucks.


The Port of Vancouver was the first port in Canada to partner with an electrical utility to place a focus on energy conservation at port terminals. In partnership with BC Hydro, our Energy Action Initiative is helping port tenants plan for the future by advancing efficient, reliable, competitive and clean energy systems. We want to leverage British Columbia’s clean hydroelectric energy and maximize electrical energy efficiency. Our Energy Action Initiative helps tenants on port lands identify and implement opportunities to reduce energy costs, access financial incentives and support increased operational productivity.

Learn more about our environmental programs for terminals.