Panama Canal Authority – Pioneering the decarbonization of the shipping industry

While the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has long focused on sustainability, the severe drought in 2023 has indicated that stronger actions are needed to accelerate decarbonization and tackle climate change. Therefore, the ACP has embarked on an ambitious vision for an integrated climate strategy that includes net-zero GHG emissions by 2050, enhancing climate resilience in the watershed for vulnerable populations, Canal operations, and vital ecosystems.

In January 2024, the Deputy Administrator, Ilya Marotta, was appointed the Canal’s first Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) to lead the implementation of this vision. In addition, roles and responsibilities related to decarbonization and climate risk management have been embedded across all VPs and Senior management. The Canal is adopting a ninth corporate strategic objective on climate to ensure the integration of this strategy across the entire organization. Finally, senior management is working closely with the board of directors to ensure long-term continuity and accountability of the Strategy.

Like the rest of the maritime industry, the Canal previously only looked at Scope 1 and 2 emissions. Now the Canal has redesigned the GHG emissions calculation to include all Scopes and GHG emissions; improve the foundation for strategic decarbonization planning; and facilitate transparency and accountability of ACP’s climate strategy. Unique in the maritime sector, the inclusion of Scope 3 illustrates the Canal’s commitment to incentivize full maritime decarbonization. The Canal intends to use this best-in-class and peer-reviewed inventory to set Science-Based Targets during 2024.

On climate adaptation, the Canal is enhancing socioeconomic resilience through biodiversity conservation, payment for ecosystem services, economic development, partnering with communities, and gender empowerment – which collectively advance the 17 sustainable development goals. Recognizing the importance of collaboration, the Canal is implementing the Strategy in partnership with IMO, ports, clients, leading think tanks, external facilitators, and solutions providers.