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Panama Canal targets GHG emissions fee

In response to the need for accelerated industry response to global climate change challenges, the Panama Canal plans to implement a green vessel classification system that will include a new greenhouse gas emissions fee. This was announced earlier this week by Panama Canal Administrator Ricaurte Vásquez Morales at the AAPA Latino Conference in Colombia.

Fee amounts and timelines for implementation have yet to be determined.  Financial penalties for shipowners will increase based on the volume of emissions. The planned measure seeks to make the canal’s operations carbon-neutral.

Under the new system, all ships over 38.1 m length overall (LOA) will be classified in levels depending on their energy efficiency. Three factors – the ship’s EEDI (Energy Efficient Design Index) score, its use of efficient operational measures such as bow thrusters, and its use of zero-carbon biofuels or carbon-neutral fuels – will determine a ship’s classification level.

As explained, these changes will build upon the waterway’s existing incentives for sustainable shipping lines, provided through its Green Connection Environmental Recognition Program. This program has evolved from the Green Connection Award, the Environmental Premium Ranking, and the Emissions Calculator.

Photo: Panama Canal Authority