Webinar: Green Shipping Corridor Network

The Northeast-Midwest Institute held a briefing today on the Great Lakes Green Shipping Corridor Network (GSCN). Announced by the U.S. and Canadian governments at COP27 in 2022, the GSCN is a binational initiative to reduce emissions in shipping in order to combat climate change and continue to grow Great Lakes shipping as an industry. Major investments are already helping ports and shipowners facilitate this transition. The briefing covered the need, plans, and vision for the GSCN, and the work being done on the ground to move to a more sustainable future.

Erika Jensen, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Commission, talked about the context surrounding the GSCN, and the GLC’s support for the initiative. The GLC passed a resolution in support of the GSCN, and helps coordinate planning. Jensen noted that “the Commission’s current strategic plan identifies as a goal, ‘supporting safe and reliable waterways, and especially a maritime transportation system, that efficiently and sustainably moves goods and enhances the competitiveness of the region’s economy and international trade.’”

Adam Tindall-Schlicht, Administrator of the Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (GLS), and Tony Fisher, Deputy Administrator of the GLS, spoke on the Seaway’s role in coordinating the GSCN. “We are trying to facilitate and catalyze that discussion, to accelerate and make sure is realized measurable decarbonization of ports, of shipping, and its necessary fuel supply by 2030, with an overall focus of decarbonization by 2050,” Tindall-Schlicht said. Fisher noted that improvements in shipping efficiency can reduce emissions. Because shipping produces fewer emissions than moving goods by train or truck, the more attractive shipping is, the more emissions are reduced even without other energy-efficiency efforts.

Carly Beck, Environmental Specialist for the Port of Cleveland, discussed the Port’s longtime role as an environmental leader, including as a founding member of Green Marine, a maritime environmental certification program. The Port is currently working towards electrification, and recently applied for a $95 million grant from the EPA’s Clean Ports Program that would speed up that effort. She noted, “Not the most exciting thing, but you definitely need to upgrade your infrastructure at your terminal before you can install chargers, install shore power, things like that.”

Executive Director Mark Schrupp explained the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority’s (DWCPA) recent study of emissions at the port, which found that 28% of emissions come from shipping, and 51% are from drayage (trucking). The Port Authority also found significant buy-in from its partners, with 22 out of 25 terminals voluntarily providing data to the study.

Guillaum Dubreuil, Director of Government and External Affairs at Canada Steamship Lines (CSL), gave updates on the progress made by ship owners. CSL has used B100, 100% biofuel, on half of its Canadian fleet over the past three shipping seasons, and has cut emissions by 84% on those vessels. “This is a purely drop-in fuel,” he said, referencing the fact that no engine upgrades are needed to switch to biodiesel. “What we need here to be able to continue to do this is availability of that fuel, and measures to ensure that the price remains fairly accessible, and those things come through a Green Shipping Corridor Network,” he stated. He added that they also are using other methods such as digitalization and utilization of data to help ships become more energy efficient.

View a recording of the briefing here.