An unprecedented surge in cargo volume lifted the Port of Long Beach to its busiest February on record. Terminal operators and dockworkers moved over 770,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), a 40% plus increase over February 2020 and marking the largest year-over-year increase for a single month in the Port’s 110-year history.
A global regulation that was meant to substantially reduce harmful sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions from ships came into effect in January of 2020. Introduced by the International Maritime Organization, IMO 2020 intended to clean up the maritime industry has had reduced benefits due to the bigger impact to the industry from Covid-19.
Labor and equipment shortgages along with strong consumer purchasing demand is creating a perfect storm and overwhelming one of the busiest gateways to the U.S. economy. Cargo vessels sit idle offshore from Los Angeles, waiting for a berth opening, while shipping containers stacked five and six-high crowd the the ports of L.A. and Long Beach.
The Port of Long Beach is committed to improving air quality and reducing the impact of goods movement through their port. To facilitate this, the Port conducts an annual inventory of air emissions from port-related sources to track progress for improving air quality and reducing health risks to surrounding communities. The Port's current findings show that the introduction of new generation diesel trucks has generated substantial clean air benefits for communities located near their freight facilities compared to previous levels.
The current emissions inventory released from the Port of Long Beach demonstrates the impact of introducing the latest clean diesel technology contributed towards substantial air quality improvements for communities located near freight facilities. In 2019, trucks serving the Port generated only 7 tons of fine particle (PM 2.5) emissions, a significant reduction from the nearly 200 tons produced in 2005. This reduction is despite a 14 percent increase in cargo volumes and largely due to the introduction of new technology diesel trucks.
The Port of Long Beach - Clean Trucks Program, instituted jointly by the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, requires that all trucks meet the latest tailpipe emissions standard for PM 2.5 and new trucks entering service in the port as of 2018 must meet the near-zero tailpipe emissions standard for ozone-forming compounds (NOx) as well. According to the latest data, 90 percent of the estimated 14,000 port trucks entering and exiting marine terminals in southern California are powered by diesel and about 65 percent are of the latest generation diesel technology. The remaining ten percent are primarily natural gas-powered vehicles. This is significantly better than California state, where only 36 percent of trucks are the latest generation diesel.
This newly published data demonstrates the impact the turnover of the latest generation diesel technology can have on frontline communities located near freight facilities as well as the states and regions across the country.
Rates for truckloads reached all-time highs this August, according to DAT Freight & Analytics, the industry’s largest online marketplace for spot market freight. Van, refrigerated and flatbed rates increased month-over-month, and load-to-truck ratios rose in all three equipment types.
As more Americans shift their purchasing to online home shopping, transpacific sea freight rates have risen to the highest on record and fueled Asian container shipping industry growth.
According to an independent maritime research and consulting firm, Drewry, refrigerated container shipping is forecasted to outpace dry good container shipping by the end of 2021. They attribute this to the strength of the global food supply chain as well as the continued trade, both import and export of key food ingredients. Their report goes on to predict that reefer shipping will withstand current economic pressures, despite an expected tightening of the availability of refrigerated container equipment and will eventually reach over 150 million tons by the year 2024. This is an annual growth rate of close to 4 percent, faster than the expected growth in the dry cargo trade.
In line with the Paris Agreement, the shipping industry is constantly looking to technology for ways to reduce its share of greenhouse gas emissions. Significant cuts in emissions however can be challenging to achieve unless fundamental changes are realised in the short term.