Why CO2 emissions monitoring is now essential for maritime stakeholders?

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CO2 emissions monitoring is now essential for maritime stakeholders

Accounting for approximately 3% of the worldwide greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), notably carbon dioxide (CO2), the maritime industry is actively working to reduce its ecological footprint and combat climate change.

All stakeholders acknowledge the critical importance of collective engagement in achieving sustainability goals. In order to take meaningful measures, they need a deep understanding of the environmental impact of their activities and the positive outcomes of their efforts to mitigate air pollution. This explains the imperative need for CO2 emissions monitoring for maritime stakeholders.

What are the stakes of CO2 emissions monitoring for the maritime industry?

As the maritime industry moves towards a more sustainable future, monitoring and mitigating carbon emissions will be a key aspect of responsible and competitive maritime operations.

Mitigate environmental impact

Shipping is a significant contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, with the burning of heavy fossil fuels in marine engines releasing large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, given its composition of approximately 86% carbon.

This equates to an emission of around 3.15 tonnes of CO2 for every ton of fuel burned. Consequently, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which regulates the industry, has established ambitious targets: a 40% reduction in the carbon intensity of international shipping by 2030 and a minimum 50% reduction in GHG emissions from ships by 2050, relative to the 2008 levels. Monitoring CO2 emissions for maritime stakeholders helps assess and manage the environmental impact of shipping activities.

mitigate environmental impact of co2 emissions

Comply with international, regional and local regulations

International and national regulations are becoming more stringent regarding emissions from the maritime sector.

The IMO has implemented various regulations to oblige all stakeholders to mitigate the environmental harm of their activities. Key regulations related to CO2 monitoring include:

  • The Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI), was adopted as part of amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL Annex VI). The EEXI sets energy efficiency requirements for existing vessels, and it aims to reduce the carbon intensity of the international shipping sector. Shipowners are required to ensure that their vessels meet the required energy efficiency levels.
  • The Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) is a measure to assess and rank the carbon intensity of individual ships. This information is intended to be used for comparison and can be included in the ship’s mandatory Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP). It is part of the broader efforts to improve the energy efficiency of ships and reduce CO2 emissions.
  • The Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) is a mandatory operation that requires vessels to develop and implement plans that outline how energy efficiency will be improved during operations. While not specifically focused on CO2 monitoring, the SEEMP is a tool to enhance overall energy efficiency, indirectly impacting CO2 emissions.
  • The Data Collection System (DCS) requests ships of 5,000 gross tonnage and above to collect and report fuel consumption data, which can be used to calculate CO2 emissions. This data is reported to the IMO, and aggregated data is published annually.


These global directives are complemented by local and regional regulations. Notably, the European Union has introduced the “Fit for 55” initiative, a comprehensive set of legislative proposals designed to accelerate the shift towards a greener economy. This initiative actively promotes carbon emission reduction and heightened energy efficiency among companies.

Its measures encompass the encouragement of renewable energy usage and the implementation of a carbon-border tax, aimed at managing the carbon emissions of ships navigating EU seas, regardless of their flag state.

Therefore, monitoring CO2 emissions is crucial for ensuring compliance with these regulations, avoiding penalties, and maintaining a positive public image.

Enhance economic efficiency

For shipping companies CO2 emissions are closely linked to fuel consumption. Therefore, while monitoring emissions, maritime stakeholders can identify opportunities to improve fuel consumption, which directly diminishes operational costs. Implementing energy-efficient technologies and practices can lead to long-term cost savings, thus enhancing overall economic performance.

Respond to stakeholder and public expectations

There is a growing awareness and concern among consumers, investors, and other stakeholders regarding the environmental impact of their buying choices. As a result, they expect all industries, including maritime, to prioritize long-term sustainability and are more likely to collaborate with businesses that uphold similar values.

Monitoring and actively working to reduce CO2 emissions align with corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals. Transparent communication regarding related initiatives has the potential to enhance the company’s reputation and foster trust and loyalty among both existing and prospective customers, as well as business associates.

Ease market access and improve competitiveness

Some ports and regions have started implementing emissions-related criteria for access or discounts on port dues. In the future, it is conceivable that market access and competitiveness may be linked to a vessel’s environmental performance. Therefore, monitoring and improving CO2 emissions can enhance a company’s ability to operate in certain regions and access markets with stricter environmental requirements.

Stimulate technology and innovation opportunities

The push for emissions reduction has spurred technological advancements and innovations in the maritime industry. Monitoring GHG emissions provides valuable data for research and development efforts aimed at creating more fuel-efficient engines, low-carbon fuels, and sustainable shipping practices. Embracing these technologies can position maritime stakeholders as leaders in the industry.

What are the best tools for monitoring CO2 emissions?

Advancements in technology have facilitated the development of an extensive array of tools for tracking carbon dioxide emissions. The Internet of Things is employed for data collection and real-time transmission, while Artificial Intelligence and Big Data enable data analysis.

A wide array of measuring systems

  • Satellite-based orbiting carbon observatories (OCO) are employed to remotely monitor atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations from space. This enables them to provide global-scale data on CO2 levels, helping scientists in understanding the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide.
  • Research Aircraft equipped with specialized instruments assess CO2 concentrations at different altitudes, providing valuable information on the vertical profiles of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  • Flux towers fitted with sensors measure the exchange of greenhouse gases between the atmosphere and ecosystems such as forests and agricultural fields.
  • Air quality monitoring stations equipped with gas analyzers track CO2 concentrations in the ambient air, particularly in urban areas and near industrial facilities.
  • Mobile sensors mounted on vehicles or drones offer a more targeted and flexible approach to emissions monitoring, allowing for specific source tracking, such as emissions from roadways or industrial facilities.
  • Open-source software platforms provide tools for emissions monitoring and analysis. These platforms may include data visualization tools, modeling software, and data management systems.
  • Online carbon footprint calculators allow individuals, businesses, and organizations to estimate their environmental impact. These tools consider energy consumption, transportation, and waste generation.

Sinay has developed an AI-driven carbon dioxide emissions calculator as part of its suite of environmental modules. Through the utilization of suitable sensors, individuals can oversee different metrics and consolidate data on a centralized dashboard. Additionally, this expert in solutions for maritime stakeholders offers specific APIs, empowering professionals to create customized solutions that can seamlessly integrate with their own ERP systems or their clients’ internal tools.

A combination of these tools and approaches is often necessary to comprehensively understand CO2 emissions at different scales, ranging from local and regional to national and global levels. In the coming years, technological progress will continue to shape the landscape of CO2 emissions monitoring tools.

A new product was launched to measure CO2 emissions at the container or vessel level, the CO2 Calculator.

Emission inventories and reporting systems

Apart from real-time data gathered, companies may leverage the national emission inventories of greenhouse gas emissions, including CO2, compiled by the country. These inventories incorporate historical data from various sources, including energy production, industrial activities, and land-use changes. Additionally, regulatory authorities require certain industries to report their GHG emissions. The collected data is utilized to ensure compliance with air pollution reduction targets.

Data analytics and modeling

Advanced data analytics and modeling platforms, often driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning, enable the processing and analysis of large datasets. These tools assist in identifying emission patterns, trends, and anomalies.

Additionally, blockchain technology can be utilized to enhance transparency and traceability of emission data, ensuring the integrity of reported data and fostering trust in emissions monitoring systems.

What are the main challenges of monitoring CO2 emissions?

Although more refined solutions are available, monitoring carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions still poses several challenges.

Data completion, accuracy and precision

Diverse measurement methods and instruments can yield varying results, introducing uncertainties in reported emissions. Similarly, temporal and spatial fluctuations pose challenges in acquiring comprehensive and real-time information. Accounting for these parameters and variability is crucial to furnish reliable and representative data.

Furthermore, emission inventories may be incomplete due to data collection gaps, reporting discrepancies, or the exclusion of certain sources, resulting in underestimations or inaccuracies in overall assessments.

On a global scale, countries may adhere to different reporting standards, and not all nations or entities possess the capacity or willingness to offer comprehensive and transparent information. This divergence can lead to potential disparities between reported and actual emissions, impeding efforts to establish a unified and accurate global understanding of emissions.

Emerging sources and technologies

As technology advances, new sources of CO2 emissions may emerge. Keeping pace with these changes and developing monitoring methods for novel emission sources can be challenging.

Policy and regulatory challenges

The implementation of effective policies and regulations for monitoring and controlling CO2 emissions can be challenging. Balancing the imperative for accurate data with the pragmatic aspects of enforcement and compliance is an ongoing struggle, compounded by the constraints associated with each government’s stance on this global issue.

Public awareness and engagement

Building public awareness and engagement in emission monitoring efforts is crucial. Lack of public understanding or support can impede the implementation of effective monitoring programs and emission reduction initiatives.

What are the opportunities of CO2 emissions monitoring in the future?

The future of CO2 emissions monitoring holds several opportunities, driven by technological innovations, and a shared commitment to addressing climate change on a global scale.

Innovation in remote sensing technologies

Continuous improvements in satellite and sensor technologies offer significant potential to enhance large-scale monitoring of CO2 emissions. These advancements provide real-time, high-resolution data on changes in land use, deforestation, industrial facilities, transportation, urban areas, and other emission-influencing factors.

Simultaneously, the integration of low-cost and portable sensors enables more widespread and decentralized measurement, enhancing data collection from diverse sources.

Next-Gen technologies for accurate insights

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning algorithms have significantly enhanced the analysis of complex datasets, leading to more accurate emission estimates. These technologies can help identify patterns, trends, and anomalies in emission data, leading to more informed decision-making.

Besides, blockchain technology has the potential to enhance transparency and traceability in emission reporting. Implementing blockchain in monitoring systems can help ensure the integrity of data, prevent fraud, and facilitate trustworthy reporting mechanisms.

International collaboration and public engagement

International collaboration and the development of standardized reporting protocols can improve the consistency and comparability of emission data across countries. In addition, involving the public in emissions monitoring through citizen science initiatives can increase awareness and create a sense of collective responsibility. Crowd-sourced data collection and public engagement can complement traditional monitoring efforts and provide additional insights into local emission patterns.

Hence, maritime stakeholders and other businesses have a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of global emissions, which facilitates coordinated efforts to address climate change.

Policy innovation and regulatory frameworks

Future opportunities lie in the development of innovative policies and regulatory frameworks that incentivize emissions reductions. Well-designed regulations can encourage the adoption of cleaner technologies and practices, driving the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Market opportunities and investment

The growing awareness of climate change risks has led to an increase in climate finance and investment. As carbon markets and trading mechanisms continue to evolve, accurate and verifiable emission data become increasingly valuable. Companies and countries with robust monitoring systems can potentially benefit from participating in carbon markets and attract funding for projects that contribute to carbon capture, storage, and utilization, as well as sustainable development.


Comprehensive and accurate maritime emissions monitoring is essential for addressing climate change and transitioning to a sustainable future. Through the use of innovative technologies, collaboration, and public engagement, the maritime industry can enhance its ability to track and reduce emissions, contributing to global efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

FAQ About CO2 Emissions Monitoring

CO2 emissions monitoring is vital as the maritime sector contributes significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions.

It helps stakeholders understand their environmental impact, comply with regulations, enhance economic efficiency, meet public expectations, and improve competitiveness in markets with stricter environmental requirements.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has implemented regulations like the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI), Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII), Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP), and Data Collection System (DCS).

Additionally, regional regulations, such as the EU’s “Fit for 55” initiative, play a crucial role.

Monitoring tools help shipping companies identify opportunities to improve fuel consumption, leading to cost savings and enhanced economic efficiency.

They also align with corporate social responsibility goals, fostering trust and loyalty among customers and improving market access in regions with emissions-related criteria.

Challenges include data completion, accuracy, and precision due to diverse measurement methods, emerging sources, and policy complexities.

Additionally, public awareness and engagement are crucial for effective monitoring, and discrepancies in reporting standards among nations pose obstacles.

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