Visualized: Congestion at America's Busiest Port
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Visualizing Congestion at America’s Busiest Port

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Busiest Port

The Briefing

  • There are an estimated 540,000 shipping containers waiting in queue at the Port of Los Angeles
  • The port has been unable to keep up with increased shipments from overseas suppliers

The Busiest Port in America: Los Angeles

U.S. e-commerce grew by 32.4% in 2020—the highest annual growth rate in over two decades. Such rapid growth has resulted in many more goods being imported, leaving America’s western ports completely overwhelmed.

To help you understand the scale of this issue, we’ve visualized the number of containers waiting at sea in relation to the Port of Los Angeles’ daily processing capacity.

Stuck at Sea

As of November 2, 2021, the Port of Los Angeles reported that it had 93 vessels waiting in queue. Altogether, these ships have a maximum carrying capacity of roughly 540,000 containers (commonly measured in twenty-foot equivalent units or TEUs).

On the other side of the equation, the port processed 468,059 import containers in September (the most recent data at the time of writing). Because the port does not operate on Sundays, we can conclude that the port can load roughly 18,000 containers each day.

That capacity seems unlikely to reduce the congestion. Over a two-week timeframe in September, 407,695 containers arrived at the Port of Los Angeles, which averages to around 29,000 containers arriving each day.

FigureApproximate Number of Containers
Current backlog540,000
Daily import arrivals29,000
Daily import capacity18,000
Daily increase in backlog11,000

What’s Being Done?

Solutions are needed to prevent the backlog from causing massive economic harm. In fact, analysts believe that up to $90 billion in trade could be delayed this holiday season.

In October, the Biden administration announced a deal to expand operations at the Port of Los Angeles, enabling it to run 24/7. The port also announced it will begin charging carriers for every container that sits idle over a grace period. While only temporary, this plan has drawn criticism for its unclear objective.

“The fee is on the ocean carrier, but the control over when the cargo is to be picked up sits with the cargo recipient. Having the ocean carrier pay more does nothing to encourage the cargo interest to pick up the cargo.” – World Shipping Council

Regardless of the outcome, more permanent solutions will be required as online shopping continues to gain popularity.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Marine Exchange of Southern California, Port of Los Angeles, Freight Waves
Data Note: These figures are based on approximations and should not be interpreted as exact.
10/11/21 Update: This infographic was updated to include the number of import containers loaded by the neighboring Port of Long Beach.

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Visualizing the 3 Scopes of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Here’s a look at the 3 scopes of emissions that comprise a company’s carbon footprint, according to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. (Sponsored Content)

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scopes of emissions

The Briefing

  • There are three groups or ‘scopes’ of emissions as defined by the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol Corporate Standard
  • A company’s supply chain emissions (included in Scope 3) are on average 5.5 times more than its direct operations (Scope 1 and Scope 2)

Visualizing the 3 Scopes of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Net-zero pledges are becoming a common commitment for nations and corporations striving to meet their climate goals.

However, reaching net-zero requires companies to shrink their carbon footprints, which comprise greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from various stages in the value chain. As more companies work to decarbonize, it’s important for them to identify and account for these different sources of emissions.

This infographic sponsored by Carbon Streaming Corporation explains the three scopes of GHG emissions and how they make up a company’s carbon footprint.

The 3 Scopes of GHG Emissions

According to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, there are three groups or ‘scopes’ that categorize the emissions a company creates. The GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, referred to as the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard, provides the most widely accepted standards for reporting and accounting for emissions and is used by businesses, NGOs and governments.

Scope 1 Emissions

These are direct emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by the company. Consequently, they are often the easiest to identify and then reduce or eliminate. Scope 1 emissions include:

  • On-site manufacturing or industrial processes
  • Computers, data centers, and its owned facilities
  • On-site transportation or company vehicles

Scope 2 Emissions

These are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased or acquired energy that the company consumes. Scope 2 emissions physically occur at the site that produces the energy and the emissions depend on both the company’s level of consumption and the means by which the energy was generated (e.g. fossil fuels vs renewable energy). Scope 2 emissions include:

  • Purchased electricity, heating, cooling, and steam

Scope 3 Emissions

Scope 3 includes all other indirect emissions that occur throughout a company’s value chain. These occur from sources not owned or controlled by the company and are typically difficult to control and thereby reduce.

Scope 3 emissions often make up the largest portion of a company’s carbon footprint. According to the CDP, a company’s supply chain emissions (included in Scope 3) are on average 5.5 times more than emissions from its direct operations (Scope 1 and 2). These include emissions from:

  • Employee commuting or business travel
  • Purchased goods and services
  • Use of sold products
  • Transportation and distribution of products

Companies can reduce their Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by improving operational efficiency and using renewable energy sources. However, managing and reducing Scope 3 emissions can be difficult depending on the company’s upstream and downstream activities.

For example, controlling the emissions from the extraction of raw materials used in a company’s end-product or from the usage of such product by a customer is not entirely in the company’s hands. But this is where carbon offsets can help.

Offsetting Emissions with Carbon Offsets

One carbon offset, also referred to as a carbon credit, represents one metric ton of GHG emissions that has been avoided, reduced or removed from the atmosphere. By purchasing carbon credits, companies can offset the emissions that are difficult to reduce or eliminate, such as Scope 3 emissions.

In fact, the voluntary carbon markets will surpass $1 billion in annual transaction value for the first time in 2021. As decarbonization plans pick up pace, carbon credits will play an important role in helping companies achieve their climate goals.

Carbon Streaming Corporation is focused on acquiring, managing and growing a high-quality and diversified portfolio of investments in carbon credits.

Where does this data come from?

Source: The Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard

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The Decline of U.S. Car Production

U.S. car production has been in a long-term downward trend since the 1970s. We examine some of the factors driving this trend.

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The Briefing

  • U.S. auto manufacturing has been in a downward trend since the 1970s
  • Overseas competitors have gradually eroded the market share of America’s Big Three
  • Recent events like the global chip shortage present further setbacks

U.S. Car Production Falls to a New Low

Germany may have been the birthplace of the automobile, but it was America that developed the methods for mass production.

Created in 1913, Henry Ford’s assembly line greatly reduced the time it took to build a car. This also made cars more affordable, and America’s automotive industry quickly became the largest in the world. As we can see in the chart above, this dominance wouldn’t last forever.

From a high of nearly 10 million cars per month in the 1970s, the U.S. produced just 1.4 million in June 2021. Here are some reasons for why the country produces a fraction of the cars it used to.

Global Competition

America’s Big Three (Ford, GM, and Chrysler*) have been unable to defend their market share from overseas competitors. The following table shows how Honda and Toyota were able to break into the U.S. market over a span of just five decades.

YearFordGMChryslerBig Three
Total Market Share
HondaToyota
196029.3%45.7%10.4%85.4%--
197028.3%38.9%14.9%82.1%-2.0%
198020.5%44.2%9.1%73.8%3.3%6.2%
199023.8%35.2%12.0%71.0%6.0%7.6%
200022.6%28.0%13.0%63.6%6.5%9.1%
201016.4%18.8%9.2%44.4%10.5%15.0%

*Chrysler is now a part of Stellantis N.V., a multinational corporation.
Source: WardsAuto

The 1970s presented an incredible opportunity for Honda and Toyota, which at the time were known for producing smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.

First was the Clean Air Act of 1970, which imposed limits on the amount of emissions a car could produce. Then came the 1973 oil crisis, which caused a massive spike in gasoline prices.

As consumers switched to smaller cars, American brands struggled to compete. For example, the flawed design of the Ford Pinto (Ford’s first subcompact car) was exposed in 1972 after one exploded in a rear-end collision. The ensuing lawsuit, Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Company, undoubtedly left a stain on the automaker’s reputation.

Production Moves to Mexico

2018 was a controversial year for GM as it came under fire by the Trump administration for closing four of its U.S. plants. That same year, GM became Mexico’s biggest automaker.

The decision to outsource is well-founded from a business standpoint. Mexico offers cheaper labor, lower taxes, and close proximity for logistics. Altogether, these benefits add up to roughly $1,200 in savings per car.

It’s important to note that GM isn’t alone in this decision. BMW, Ford, and many others have also invested in Mexico to produce cars destined for the United States.

Shifts in the Market

There are other, less obvious factors to consider too.

Modern cars are much more reliable, meaning Americans don’t need to purchase a new one as often. 2020 marks four consecutive years of increase for the average vehicle age in the U.S., which now sits at 12 years old.

“In the mid-’90s, 100,000 miles was about all you would get out of a vehicle. Now, at a 100,000 miles a vehicle is just getting broken in.”
– Todd Campau, Associate Director, IHS Markit

Rising car prices could also be playing a part. The average price of a new car was $41,000 as of July 2021, up from around $35,700 in May 2018.

Can U.S. Car Production Make a Comeback?

Recent events are a grim reminder of the direction U.S. car production is heading.

As part of its plant closures, GM shuttered its Lordstown facility in 2019. This broke a 2008 agreement in which GM pledged to keep 3,700 employees at the location through 2028. The company had received over $60 million in tax credits as part of this deal, and $28 million was ordered to be paid back.

COVID-19 has presented further issues, such as the ongoing chip shortage which has impacted the production of more than 1 million U.S.-made vehicles.

Not all hope is lost, however.

Tesla now employs over 70,000 Americans across its production facilities in California, Nevada, New York, and soon, Texas. The company is joined by Lucid Motors and Rivian, two entrants into the EV industry that have both opened U.S. plants in 2021.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Trading Economics

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