The transition to low and near zero carbon emission ports : extent and determinants


Anas Alamoush

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Maritime Affairs


Ph.D (Maritime Affairs)


Malmö, Sweden



First Advisor

Aykut I. Ölçer

Second Advisor

Fabio Ballini


Port CO2 emissions are still high due to the dependence of equipment and energy on fossil fuels. This puts the port under pressure stemming from, inter alia, logistics chains, stakeholders and regulations, in addition to not being in line with the Paris Agreement’s goal for industries to decarbonise by mid-century. The research problem suggests that ports need to reduce their high carbon emissions and decarbonise, to contribute to the mitigation of climate change that started hitting hard including worldwide countries ports. However, there are practical and academic gaps that contribute and exacerbate the problem while this phenomenon is not yet mature from the port perspective.

The goal of this research is to identify how ports can transit to Low and Near Zero Carbon Emission Ports (LNZCEPs) while at the same time identifying the determinants and measuring the extent of such transition and then spotting port differences in transition based on various proposed port archetypes. This entails identification of the relationships between the independent variables (IVs, the determinants) and the dependent variable (DV, the transition to LNZCEPs). The determinants are six clusters that include the PMB’s utilisation of the implementation schemes, level of governance, inter-organisational relationships, disposition and commitment of managers, capacities and economic conditions, and consideration of carbon polluters. As regards the transition to LNZCEPs, a scale of five stages was proposed (with differing levels of weights), while six archetypes with different and overarching categories were proposed to highlight differences in ports’ transition, i.e., the trade specialisation, port size, geographical trade orientation, port regional location, carbon intensity of the national electricity grid, and port-city location. Twelve hypotheses were generated, and multiple regression and one way ANOVA were used as analytical tools to test these hypotheses.

By means of mixed methods, i.e., review of documents and survey questionnaires, including the deductive theoretical approach (implementation and sustainability theories), a conceptual framework was constructed to guide the data collection and analysis. While the DV/IVs were operationalised to multiple items, then validated and checked for reliability to form a reliable/unidimensional scale, data was collected from 223 Port Managing Bodies (PMBs), port operating companies, and port operators. The regression model yielded five significant determinants that have positive relationships with the DV, but the consideration of polluters was found not to be significant. Hence, five hypotheses were accepted, and one rejected. Consequently, it can be concluded that the validated determinants can be used by ports to enhance the transition to LNZCEPs. With respect to the extent of the transition examination and analysis, results indicated that ports are aware of the LNZCEMs, and some have started planning to utilise them, but the initiation and final successful utilisation is not high, i.e., 4.9% extremely (successfully) utilised


the measures, while 12.6% did to a very high extent. Overall, the extent of transition is marginal. Thus, although some ports are advanced in their transition to LNZCEPs, most ports need a more systematic approach to appropriately implement the decarbonisation goal effectively.

Additionally, when possible differences in utilisation across port archetypes (six) were considered (six hypotheses), the extent of transition indeed varied: i) among port specialisations, container terminals/ports were the highest in transition, ii) very large ports were the highest in the transition, compared to other ports, while there was no statistical difference between the large and medium ports, iii) port geographical trade orientation revealed no statistical differences among its categories, iv) the port geographical location showed significant differences between developed (Europe and North America) and developing countries (rest of regional categories) in that the European ports had the highest level of transition, v) the carbon intensity of the national grid also played a role in different transition extent, i.e., ports with low carbon intensity had higher transition, and vi) there was no difference between city ports and ports outside cities. All of these archetype differences were theoretically justified. This validation means that ports are different from one another, and such differences need to be taken into account by port managing bodies and policy makers. On the whole, the results of this research have both managerial and academic implications that contribute to port management and policy making, and scholarly knowledge of port decarbonisation.

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