Launched in 2012, the Environmental Ship Index (ESI) Program pays ships to go green in return for clean air. The Port of Los Angeles is the first port in North America to offer the ESI incentive.


SAN PEDRO, Calif. — March 2016 – During the first six months the of the Environmental Ship Index (ESI) Program at the Port of Los Angeles, shipping lines calling at the Port have earned $162,500 by sending their cleanest vessels to the Port.

The payoff is clean air, and the Port is eager to spend the rest of the $450,000 allotted for the first year and continue to offer the rewards program into the future.

“ESI is a voluntary program open to any ocean-going vessel that calls at the Port of Los Angeles,” said Environmental Specialist Carter Atkins, who heads the Port of Los Angeles’ ESI program. “It rewards operators for reducing emissions in Port areas ahead of and beyond regulations through operational practices, investing in green technology, and deploying their cleanest ships to Los Angeles.”

When the Port of Los Angeles launched its program in July 2012, it was the first port in North America to offer the ESI incentive. The Port of Los Angeles played a key role in developing the umbrella program under the auspices of the International Association of Ports and Harbors through its World Ports Climate Initiative. Dr. Geraldine Knatz, Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles, has headed the WPCI since its inception in 2008 and remained at its helm after being elected President of IAPH in 2011.

When ESI was first introduced in Europe in 2011, 121 vessels enrolled in the program. As of January 2013, global participation has skyrocketed to 1,765 vessels.

“ESI works because a growing network of ports are collaborating to promote sustainable practices in a way that makes sense for a global industry,” said Dr. Lee Kindberg, Director of Environment and Sustainability for Maersk Line North American Operations based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“We don’t have separate methods of reporting for every port. We’re able to submit our data to one database and each port can set its own environmental incentive program based on what’s important to that community,” said Kindberg. “It’s really a nice balance of accelerating environmental progress, reducing the administrative burden on operators, and giving each port the ability to focus on its regional environmental priorities.”

The program is designed to be worldwide, and each vessel can earn an incentive whenever it calls at a participating port. “Having multiple participating ports on a given route is where the numbers add up and you really start to get people’s attention,” Kindberg said.

The Port of Los Angeles’ ESI Program rewards vessel operators meeting one or all of the following criteria:

  • Earning 30 or more points based on a vessel’s engine specifications and emissions certification; use of low-sulfur fuel, plug-in ready on-board shore power technology, and a Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP).
  • Routing ships with a Tier II or Tier III engine to the Port of Los Angeles.
  • Participating in a demonstration project to test and improve vessel emission reduction technology.

Participating carriers in the Port of Los Angeles’ program can earn incentives of $500 to $5,250 per ship call, with rewards paid on a quarterly basis. Hapag-Lloyd AG was also among the first container shipping lines to enroll.

“As a frontrunner of establishing On Shore Power Supply on board its vessel, Hapag-Lloyd values the system the Port of Los Angeles uses to earn incentive points,” said Wolfram Guntermann, Director of Environmental Fleet Management of the Hamburg-based carrier. “The Port of Los Angeles’ program recognizes our active contribution towards a cleaner environment in the San Pedro Basin.”

ESI builds on a number of port clean air initiatives – including those first introduced in the San Pedro Bay – and it is expected to develop as technology and international regulations change. Kindberg credits the Port of Los Angeles with developing implementation strategies that the global maritime industry can embrace.

“Through initiatives such as its Vessel Speed Reduction Program, the Port of Los Angeles was one of the leaders in the early use of collaborative incentive programs to accelerate environmental progress.”

For more information on the Port of Los Angeles Environmental Ship Index Program and registration, visit http://www.portoflosangeles.org/environment.ogv.asp.