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2040 Net Zero Target

We plan to more than halve our carbon emissions relative to the 2014 baseline by 2025.

Some 2,000 tonnes of carbon are generated by our operations every year, the vast majority from vessels performing essential duties including pilot transfers, river patrols, channel and mooring maintenance.  The initial phase of our plan, backed by a major investment programme, will see emission cuts projected to exceed 60% by 2025, compared to the baseline year of 2014, when 2,054 tonnes of carbon were emitted. 

Our decarbonisation plan was developed by a cross company team and staff council, who will continue to monitor our progress.  The first changes, which are expected to more than halve emissions in the next five years, centre on our fleet of vessels and include:

  • the adoption of biofuel across the vessels in the PLA fleet;
  • installing biofuel tanks at PLA riverside locations to accommodate a phased switch;
  • two vessels with low emission post combustion cleaning;
  • switching our road vehicles to electric and all pilot taxis will be lower emission vehicles; and
  • installing a new sub-station will be at our Denton Wharf base, to cope with increased electrical demand from the vessels and vehicles.

Our goal is to achieve Net Zero by eliminating emissions through adopting and supporting the development of new technology and its applications.  Offsetting would be a last resort, although beneficial improvements to the marine environment, which have an offsetting benefit, are part of our wider agenda. 

Later steps in the Net Zero delivery plan delivering energy and biodiversity benefits include:

  • replacing the vessel fleet with zero emission alternatives as technology develops;
  • renewable energy installations;
  • saltmarsh restoration;
  • biodiversity enhancement and carbon sequestration; and
  • wildflower planting for biodiversity.

Longer-term we will look at feasibility studies in a range of areas, such as aquaculture for carbon sequestration and green roofs.  Studies which produce viable results, especially in light of the changes due to climate impacts, will be taken forward for implementation.

We were one of the first organisations to sign up to the Society for the Environment Pledge to Net Zero in 2019, a commitment requiring signatories to adopt science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

To sign the pledge we have demonstrated: a commitment to a science-based carbon reduction target (SBT); including emissions from buildings and travel as a minimum; achieve the target reduction without the use of offsets; report the carbon footprint against the target year-on-year; and plan an active role in advancing industry progress towards a Net Zero carbon economy.

The Net Zero programme is part of a wider PLA strategy to improve environmental performance across air quality, climate change, biodiversity and resource use.

We are an environmental leader in the UK ports industry. First to develop and publish an evidence-based Air Quality Strategy in 2017, in summer 2020 we published the first roadmap for inland vessels emissions reduction and monitoring at Greenwich Ship Tier, calling for new low emissions technologies to come to the river for the benefit of the wider community.   

More generally, the PLA has invested in improving environmental performance with a hybrid pilot cutter, solar PV panels on roofs at two of our sites, lower energy lighting, some EV and hybrid vehicles, rainwater harvesting and solar-powered light buoys. This year, the theme for our annual environmental conference was a Net Zero Thames.