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Panama Canal allocates $8.5 billion for sustainability projects amid climate change


In an ambitious initiative to combat climate change and the impact of a prolonged severe drought, the Panama Canal Authority has announced plans to allocate more than $8.5 billion in capital investments towards sustainability projects over the next five years.

“We plan to embed sustainability into capital investments worth over $8.5 billion in the next five years, surpassing the $5.4 billion required by the Panama Canal Expansion Program,” the PCA indicated.

”The largest portion ($3.5 billion) will go toward infrastructure and equipment, including the installation of a photovoltaic plant, the purchase of electric vehicles and hybrid tugs, and various other investments. More than $2 billion more will be dedicated to new sustainability-focused initiatives.

“The implementation of a more robust water management system is also expected to require an additional $2 billion investment. The remaining funds, amounting to more than a billion dollars, will support digital transformation and decarbonization-focused improvements at the waterway.”

The Panama Canal Authority reiterated that it aims to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, in line with global goals. “To meet this target, we will pursue meaningful action and engagement, working with the entire maritime value chain to create an enabling environment for climate resilient operations and development. By transforming our business, we are confident that we will enable our customers and employees to also transform, allowing all to overcome climate risk and succeed in a new climate.”

According to the Canal Authority, the Canal’s Gatun reservoir experienced a daily water deficit of about three million cubic meters in 2023 due to lower than expected rainfall in Panama. This was compounded by a strong El Nino and outflows from Canal operations, evaporation, human consumption, and industry trends. As a result, the Panama Canal Authority was forced to sharply reduce the number of daily ship transits and also implement draft restrictions.

(Dreamstime photo of Panama Canal Gatun Locks)