Port Vision for 2030 – The Port of Rotterdam’s climate initiative

Context of Transport Climate Action

The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port of Europe, and one of the largest in the world. The port is of vital importance to the Dutch economy, with a contribution to National GDP of € 19 billion (2013 figures). All these activities however put a strain on the city’s air quality. Furthermore, the expected growth of the port will lead to a strong increase of CO2 emissions. Reducing the environmental impact of the port is therefore an important aspect in the Port Vision for 2030.

The ambitions of the port are translated in a sustainability program (Programma Duurzaam), that is set up every 3 to 4 years in close cooperation with public and private stakeholders, including the municipality of Rotterdam, DCMR (regional environmental protection agency) and Deltalinqs (industry association of companies in the port).

As part of the program, the port develops and adopts environmental innovations and policies. Example include using differentiated port tariffs for ships based on their environmental performance to motivate shipping companies to reduce their polluting emissions. The port also incorporated requirements for the modal split of the hinterland transport from a new port area (Maasvlakte 2) to reduce the carbon footprint of the hinterland transport and to keep the congestion to a minimum. The port has also created infrastructure for cold ironing (using shoreside electrical power) and Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) bunkering[1] for ships.

[1] Fueling


The environmental policy of the Port of Rotterdam focuses on three main topics:

  1. Clean air: High levels of particulate matter (PM), NOX, SOX and other harmful exhaust gas emissions in the port can be barriers to growth of the port. The port therefore stimulates the use of LNG as a marine fuel and rewards ships with low emissions by reducing their port fees. This is done for oceangoing ships with a good ESI (Environmental Ship Index) score and for inland ships that meet the CCNR2[1] emission requirements. The port’s cold ironing infrastructure allows ships to switch off their engines and to use electricity from the shore so while ships are moored they can switch off their diesel generators and use this shore power, eliminating local exhaust gas emissions in the port.
  1. Space for nature: Nature is taken into account by the Port Authority in port development. Protecting the breeding grounds and natural habitat of plants and animals, these include wild horses, seals, protected orchids and the endangered natterjack toad, is a priority for the port. Making these nature reserves accessible for recreation is another port priority.
  1. Reduction of GHG emissions as part of their contribution to climate protection: The ambition of the port is to reduce the exhaust of CO2 by 50% by 2025 compared to 1990. With its partners of the sustainability program, the ports aims to increase energy efficiency, stimulate the use of renewable energy and prevent CO2 from going into the atmosphere. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) and carbon capture usage (CCU) is being examined together with authorities and private partners. It is expected that this will contribute about 60 to 70% of the port’s CO2 reduction goal. The figure shows how the port plans to reduce its CO2 emissions so drastically.


[1] An Marine Engine requirement standard


Implementation of the sustainability goals takes place on three levels.

  • The port’s own business and operations: In the process of purchasing and in setting out calls for tenders, the port includes criteria for sustainability. The CO2 footprint of the organization is actively minimized. Electric company vehicles, energy efficient working boats and the use of renewable electricity in the buildings are examples of the these efforts.
  • Port and industrial activities: wind energy and biomass are used to generate environmentally friendly energy. Efficient energy storage and distribution is another aspect the port is working on. Stimulating energy efficiency and clean air is achieved through its differentiated port tariffs and the creation of bunkering facilities for alternative fuels like LNG and the provision of shore electrical power.
  • Transport and supply chain: even though the port has limited influence over this, the impact of changes at this level is large. Some of the port’s policies on this level are:
    • Agreements with involved stakeholders to reduce the share of road transport in the container hinterland transport mix from 45% to 35% in 2035, by encouraging greater use of inland shipping and rail transport.
    • Any trucks entering the new Maasvlakte 2 (a major port expansion project opened in May 2013) zone must meet the EURO VI requirements.
    • From 2025 onwards the port aims to only allow entry to inland ships that meet CCNR2 requirements.
    • Only fully electric AGV’s (automated guided vehicles) which stack and transport containers are allowed to operate in the Maasvlakte 2 area.

Differentiated port dues based on the environmental performance of ships provides an incentive for ship owners to invest in energy efficient and clean ships if they want to use the port of Rotterdam.


  • CO2 emissions of the port will be reduced by 50% in 2025 compared to 1990
  • The shift towards rail and inland shipping improves accessibility and reduces congestion
  • Local air quality is improved, benefiting public.
  • Nature and wildlife are protected and given the space they need
  • Recreation possibilities are created by these nature reserves
  • Innovation are supported by the Port’s efforts to reach its environmental goals, leading to a more competitive port

Potential for scaling up

The program of the Port involves a wide range of measures to stimulate local industry, economy, protect wildlife and nature and most importantly: safeguard the quality of life for the people living in the vicinity of ports. The port of Rotterdam shows that focusing on sustainable development can go hand in hand with being a market leader, and that ambitious goals can be a driver to develop new technologies and make a significant reductions in the emission of greenhouse gases.

Ports can benefit from a similar strategy set out by Rotterdam, as they have demonstrated that it makes economic, social and environmental sense.

A similar integrated approach to sustainability is not exclusive to ports. Other major transport hubs like airports, or industrial epicenters like mining regions can also include sustainability in their core values and work together with their stakeholders to reduce their carbon footprint.

Selected references



Start of a CO2 hub in Rotterdam: connecting CCS and CCU by Ros M., Read A., Uilenreef J. and Limbeek J., Energy Procedia, 2014






Europe, Netherlands, rotterdam






Netherlands, Mitigation, Freight, Technology, Policy, Partnerships, Finance


Port of Rotterdam