Emission monitoring methods

This article is the introduction to our series of 4 articles that will cover the origin and necessity behind the most widely used emission monitoring methods.

What is the global situation with emissions?

It is estimated that Maritime transport emits around 940 million tonnes of CO2 annually, and thereby accounts for 2-3% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) annually. Additionally, some assessments show that emissions could continue to increase up to 50% or even 250% by 2050 due to the growth of the world maritime trade. These calculations compromise the objectives of the Paris Agreement, a global effort to fight the threat of climate change. However, CO2 is not the only emission of concern. Nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, oil, ballast water, bilge water, sewage and sulphur oxide, the most harmful of all, are all subject to scrutiny.

How does shipping fit into that picture?

In this regard, while shipping is not included in the Paris Agreement, global and regional efforts have been taken by international bodies such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the European Union (EU) to decrease the annual GHG emissions to ultimately be in line with the Paris Agreement objectives. Therefore, measures have been adopted to control and monitor emissions from ships. Regulatory requirements regarding emissions have been set in place for ships to be allowed to enter controlled waters and ports. Those responsible for policing ships that dock in their country are the Port State Control authorities. Inspections are done at the port, with inspectors boarding a ship which  is usually chosen at random or because of suspicious indicators.

Frameworks such as the IMO’s MARPOL Annex VI and the EU’s Monitoring Reporting and Verification Regulation set forth certain methods to measure and monitor shipping emissions. Monitoring methods which are available range from the on-board direct measurement and the parameter method, over periodic stock takes of fuel tanks and flow meters, to the usage of drones and fixed land-based sniffers.

The following 3 articles from this series will explore these different monitoring methods and give you more information about their advantages and disadvantages:

  • Emission Monitoring Methods under the NOx Technical Code;
  • Emission Monitoring Methods under the MRV Regulation;
  • Drones, Aircraft and Land-based Sniffers.

Which one do you think is the most efficient?