CETA: it’s on again

The vicissitudes of CETA (Canada Europe Trade Agreement) continue. As of today, Canada and the 28 EU (European Union) countries are reportedly ready to sign off on the free trade agreement and a lengthy addendum meant to address European concerns over dispute resolution.

CETA’s dispute resolution provisions, modeled after NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), have been contentious from the start for some European governments and social organizations worried that the terms favour corporate business over national and local decision making. Although the most vocal protests originated in Germany, it was Belgium – a country whose “two solitudes” have created constitutional problems that make Canada’s wrangling with Québec separatism look like child’s play – that brought things to a head with a last minute refusal to sign and precipitated Chrystia Freeland’s frustrated walk-out last week.

Chrystia Freeland, Canada's Minister of International Trade‘Freeland, Canada’s International Trade Minister, hasn’t yet confirmed the details of the unpublished “joint interpretive declaration” that was negotiated as an annex to the agreement in order to clarify the dispute resolution’s application and mollify European critics.

CBC News has outlined the main points of the annex and provided a link to a leaked Belgian copy (in French) of the annex text: “What’s in the declarations that sealed the Canada-EU trade deal? Two declarations emerged on Thursday: one Canada negotiated, one is Belgium-specific”.

In the House of Commons this week Freeland took some partisan criticism from the Conservative Party, which negotiated most of CETA on the Canadian side, but her walk-out appears vindicated today. See CBC News, 2016-10-28, “‘The tactic has paid off’: Freeland’s dramatic walk out may have saved CETA. Despite criticism of minister’s ‘visible emotion,’ Canada and Europe seem near a deal“.

ICAO adopts carbon offset for airlines

On October 6, a Plenary Session of the UN aviation agency’s (ICAO – International Civil Aviation Organization) 39th Assembly agreed to recommend adoption of a final Resolution text for the new global market-based measure (GMBM) to control CO2 emissions from international aviation.

ICAO’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) is designed to complement airlines’ independent mitigation measures to reduce CO2 emissions. These include technical and operational improvements and advances in the production and use of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation.

Implementation of the CORSIA will begin with a pilot phase from 2021 through 2023, followed by a first phase, from 2024 through 2026. Participation in both of these early stages will be voluntary and the next phase from 2027 to 2035 would see all States on board. Some exemptions were accepted for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and States with very low levels of international aviation activity. It’s the first global carbon offset system for a single industry.

In the draft Assembly Resolution text, the average level of CO2 emissions from international aviation covered by the scheme between 2019 and 2020 represents the basis for carbon neutral growth from 2020, against which emissions in future years are compared. In any year from 2021 when international aviation CO2 emissions covered by the scheme exceed the average baseline emissions of 2019 and 2020, this difference represents the sector’s offsetting requirements for that year.

The National Airlines Council of Canada said in a press release:

The National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC), the trade association representing Canada’s largest passenger air carriers, applauds the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for reaching an agreement
to implement a global carbon offset system and commends the Government of Canada for its role in reaching the accord.

(Sources: ICAO press release and What is CORSIA?; CBC News, 2016-10-07, “Historic agreement: Canada signs on to world’s 1st airline climate plan“)

Hanjin Shipping bankruptcy roils container market

Korea’s Hanjin Shipping, the world’s seventh-largest container shipping line collapsed into bankruptcy this week after a restructuring proposal was rejected by creditors. Korea’s largest liner company reported $4.5 billion (USD) in liabilities on its June 30, 2016 financial report and efforts to attract more capital and extend payment periods on current debt quickly fell apart.

Several Hanjin vessels have been detained at various Chinese ports and one was being held in Singapore. Korean courts dealing with the bankruptcy are expected to work out terms for an orderly discontinuation of Hanjin’s shipping business that involves regaining control of its fleet overseas and the eventual liquidation of its assets.

The company owns 59 of the 132 ships in its fleet which consists of container and bulk vessels. Among its chartered vessels are three from Vancouver’s Seaspan Corporation which were delivered in 2014 on 10-year contracts with a total value of $364 million (USD). Seaspan now has 88 ships in total and says the Hanjin contracts are not significant enough to endanger its own business.

Hanjin, a member of the Trans Pacific Stabilization Conference, calls at Vancouver and other West Coast ports. See Hanjin’s service map for an overview of its routes. The company’s demise has stranded cargo at the start of container shipping’s high season when retailers are stocking inventory for Christmas season sales. It has also led to rate increases of 50% or more on the spot market for some containers on the Asia-U.S. West Coast route. (Sources: Hanjin Shipping; Bloomberg, 2016-08-30, Korea’s Hanjin Shipping Becomes Symbol of Industry in Pain); Vancouver Sun, 2016-08-31, “Hanjin Shipping receivership affects Seaspan Corp’s charter operations“; CNBC, 2016-08-31, “More Hanjin ships seized, as freight rates surge and cargo owners fret“; CBC News, 2016-09-01, “Giant container vessel stuck in Prince Rupert, company in receivership“)

Ontario pilots HOT lanes on QEW

The province of Ontario will commence a pilot project on Sept. 15, 2016 of High Occupancy Toll lanes (HOT) wherein single drivers can buy access to HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes on 16.5 km of the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way, aka Highway 403), in both directions, from Trafalgar Road in Oakville to Guelph Line in Burlington.

The pilot is scheduled to run for an indeterminate period of 2-4 years and sells 3-month permits for $180 ($60/mo.) The prospect of modest time savings attracted 3,500 applicants for the 500 available permits currently offered. Cost/benefit projections peg an average time savings of 10 minutes on each way of a commute, yielding an hourly price of $8.25 on reduced driving time.

Ontario HOV sign showing available HOT access Permits were assigned on a lottery basis and can be renewed twice before vehicle owners must reapply. The permit allows drivers to legally join buses, vehicles with 2+ passengers, etc. in the HOV lane.

The Province aims to introduce the HOT feature to some of its major freeways after pricing and tolling issues are refined. More permanent HOT lanes are expected to utilize electronic tolling. (Sources: Ontario Ministry of Transportation, HOT FAQs, HOT Lanes; Globe and Mail, 2016-08-27, p. A12, “How much would you pay to drive in this lane?”)

Air passengers choose their money over their life, and yours, in emergency

Yesterday’s crash landing in Dubai of an Emirates Boeing 777 was survived by all passengers and crew, although a firefighter died in the following blaze which consumed the aircraft’s cabin.

In such an emergency, airliner crews explicitly direct passengers to leave everything behind. However, many Emirates passengers ignored the order and stopped to collect carry-on luggage before exiting, endangering not only themselves but also the passengers behind them.

Most airlines aim to complete an aircraft evacuation in 90 seconds, the U.S. FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) standard. A 2000 study of 46 aircraft evacuations by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board found that almost 50 percent of people had tried to take a bag. Not only do some stop for their luggage, others take video as shown in the Guardian’s link. (Sources: The Guardian, “Dubai crash-landing: video footage shows passengers stopping for luggage“; Bloomberg.com, 2016-08-04, “Crashing, Burning Planes Don’t Stop Passengers From Grabbing Their Luggage“)

Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table releases logistics labour market predictions for western provinces

The Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table’s1 Corridor Labour Market Information Project provides labour supply and demand information on 34 occupations in the air, logistics, rail, and trucking sectors for the Asia Pacific Gateway Corridor (APGC) transportation network, which extends from Manitoba to British Columbia. It provides occupational analysis at the four-digit National Occupation Classification2 (NOC) level. The forecasts were completed in conjunction with government and industry partners.

The reports and occupation snapshots are available at: www.lmionline.ca.

Read the Asia Pacific Gateway Corridor (APGC) LMI 2016-2025 Executive Summary (20 pp., 888 KB pdf).

Read the APGC LMI Background and Methodology Report (26 pp., 461 KB pdf).


The Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table (Skills Table) is a non-profit, regional partnership between labour, business, and education and training institutions. Our mandate is to coordinate decision-making and action to address overall concerns regarding labour shortages and skills gaps in the Asia Pacific Gateway, and build appropriate capacity in labour resources in innovative ways.

2 The National Occupation Classification “is the nationally accepted taxonomy and organizational framework of occupations in the Canadian labour market,” and is designed to classify occupational information from statistical surveys. The NOC is structured in a four-tiered hierarchical arrangement of occupational groups with successive levels of disaggregation as follows:

  • 10 broad occupational categories – Each broad occupational category has a unique one digit code number and is composed of one or more major groups.
  • 40 major groups – Each major group has a unique two-digit code number and is composed of one or more minor groups. The first digit of this code indicates the broad occupational category to which the major group belongs.
  • 140 minor groups – Each minor group has a unique three-digit code number and is composed of one or more unit groups. The first two digits of this code indicate the major group to which the minor groups belong.
  • 500 unit groups – Each unit group has a unique four-digit code. The first three digits of this code indicate the major and minor groups to which the unit group belongs.

StatCan reviews oil transport

Today Statistics Canada (StatCan) released Canada’s shifting sands: Oil production, distribution and implications, 2005 to 2014, a short report with 8 charts. Among the highlights are:

  • Oil production in Canada increased by over 50% from 2005 to 2014 with crude bitumen and synthetic crude accounting for almost all of the growth.
  • In 2014, Canadian railways shipped over 185,000 rail cars containing fuel oils and crude petroleum; three times the number shipped in 2005.
  • Since 2005, pipeline and rail accidents have tended to reflect broader economic trends, but notable spills have clearly demonstrated some of the risks of the oil industry.
  • Largely driven by oil sands expansion, the oil and gas sector accounted for over one quarter (26%) of Canada’s 732 megatonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2014.[*]

* On a national basis, transportation accounts for for 23-24% of GHG emissions and was surpassed as a source of GHGs by the oil and gas sector only in 2012, according to this report.

Verified Gross Mass of container shipments now mandatory

Verified Gross Mass (VGM) documentation for marine containers became mandatory on July 1, 2016 in Canada and elsewhere. Gross mass means the combined mass of a container’s tare mass and the masses of all packages and cargo items, including pallets, dunnage and other packing material and securing materials packed into the container. Under Transport Canada regulations1,

in order to verify the gross mass of a packed container in Canada the shipper shall either
a. weigh the loaded container (Method one); or
b. weigh all the items loaded into the container (including dunnage, securing material, etc.) and add the tare mass of the container to the sum of those single masses (Method two).

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) this year amended the SOLAS (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea) regulations. Specifically, Chapter VI, Regulation 2, paragraphs 4 to 6 which now require the verification of the declared weight of containers, whereas carriers previously had to rely on shippers’ declarations of weight/mass.

The IMO states2:

it would be beneficial if Administrations and port State control authorities could take a “practical and pragmatic approach” when enforcing [the updated regulations], for a period of three months immediately following 1 July 2016.

The IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) has published an advice circular (pdf download) regarding the SOLAS VGM. The MSC also reminded members of the shipping community “that the stability and safe operation of ships, including the safe packing, handling and transport of containers, is not limited to the provision and use of VGM information and is also covered by a number of SOLAS regulations, including SOLAS regulations VI/2.1, VI/2.2 and VI/2.3, and other IMO instruments, amongst others.”

1 CANADIAN PROCEDURE FOR OBTAINING THE VERIFIED GROSS MASS OF PACKED CONTAINERS AS REQUIRED BY SOLAS VI/2 – TP 15330 (retrieved from: http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/marinesafety/tp-menu-515-4505.html}

2 (retrieved from: http://www.imo.org/en/MediaCentre/PressBriefings/Pages/14-VGM.aspx)

Roberts Bank Terminal 2 update

The Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project (RBT2) is a proposed new three-berth container terminal in Delta, B.C. (Deltaport) that would provide 2.4 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of additional container capacity. This project should not be confused with Deltaport Berth 3 which was completed in 2010. Transtalk last reviewed developments at Deltaport in 2008.

Artist rendering of proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2
Artist rendering of proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (image courtesy of Port of Vancouver)

The Port of Vancouver’s1 four existing container terminals have an annual capacity of about 3 million TEUs. The Port projects West Coast container traffic of 7 million TEUs, including the Port of Prince Rupert, by 2030.

RBT2 is part way through an environmental assessment process expected to finish in 2018. An overview of issues is provided in the Environmental Impact Assessment Executive Summary (124 pp., 5.15 MB pdf), published in March 2015. No decision on proceeding with RBT2 can be made before completion of the environmental review process under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Act.

Recent developments include the establishment of an independent three-member review panel to conduct the environmental assessment: Ms. Jocelyne Beaudet, chair, Dr. Diana Valiela and Dr. David Levy, members.


1In April 2016, the port dropped the name “Port Metro Vancouver” to become the “Port of Vancouver.” In addition, the port authority announced it will implement the consistent use of its legal name, the “Vancouver Fraser Port Authority,” when referencing activities or decisions of the port authority.

Cruise ship pollution

The Disney Wonder discharges garbage at Canada Place, 2016-05-23The Disney Wonder discharges garbage and takes on fuel at Canada Place, 2016-05-23 (Max Burley photo)

A recent article in The Guardian, “The world’s largest cruise ship and its supersized pollution problem” focuses on Southampton, UK. The Port of Southampton is Europe’s busiest cruise ship terminal, projecting 462 cruise ship calls in 2016 and more passengers than 2015’s 1.7 million. The port has four dedicated cruise ship terminals able to handle the largest vessels currently afloat.

The Guardian says,

The Harmony, owned by Royal Caribbean, has two four-storey high 16-cylinder Wärtsilä engines which would, at full power, each burn 1,377 US gallons of fuel an hour, or about 66,000 gallons a day of some of the most polluting diesel fuel in the world.

In port, and close to US and some European coasts, the Harmony must burn low sulphur fuel or use abatement technologies.

British Columbia’s Ministry of the Environment says1:

Marine engines make a sizeable contribution to emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM2.5), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) on a provincewide basis. The contribution is even more significant when one considers that many of these emissions are concentrated in the busy ports of the Lower Mainland.

Marine engines use either marine diesel or marine heavy fuel oil. Both of these fuels have much higher sulphur contents than transportation fuels used on land. For ocean going ships visiting B.C., fuel sulphur contents typically fall in the range of 1 to 3% (this compares to 15 ppm or 0.0015% sulphur content for on-road diesel in Canada).

To address air emissions from ships the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2010 adopted MARPOL Annex VI which contains the North American Emissions Control Area (ECA). Effective August 1, 2012, it applies to ships operating in US and Canadian waters. The ECA extends approximately 200 nautical miles offshore and stipulates that when in force all ships operating in this area must use fuel oil with a sulphur content that does not exceed 1.0% m/m (10,000 ppm). See the IMO’s Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships page for more information.

The Harmony of the Seas won’t be visiting Vancouver anytime soon because, like other recent cruising colossuses, it is too big to pass under the Lions Gate Bridge.

Port Metro Vancouver’s shore power initiative has the potential to greatly reduce ship emissions in the lower mainland. Ships with the necessary equipment can shut down their auxiliary engines while at the dock and “plug in” to the electrical grid. Currently available only at the Canada Place cruise ship terminal (shore power enabled berths for container ships at Centerm Berth Five and Deltaport Third Berth are scheduled to be operational in 2017) the service recorded 76 successful connections in 2014, out of 98 ship calls having connection capability2.

In 2015, Port Metro Vancouver recorded 228 cruise ship calls with 805,000 passengers (includes both embarkations and disembarkations)3.

Other resources:

3Cruise Statistics Report 2008-2015, Port Metro Vancouver