Last week, the United Nations’ maritime agency, or the International Maritime Organization (IMO)’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), met for the 80th time. The major agenda item was an overhaul of its climate strategy, which aims to reach net-zero shipping by 2050. This is a huge commitment – but how will we get there?

The IMO’s framework to benchmark greenhouse gas emissions uses various calculations regarding how vessels burn fuel. These calculations employ different measures of how efficient a vessel is and include Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII), Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), and Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI). The calculations are based on various aspects and assumptions of a vessel.

The IMO uses these measures to create new goals and initiatives to reduce emissions in the international shipping sector. The MEPC spent a substantial amount of meeting time last week dedicated to trying to change these calculations – they developed well-to-wake calculations, discussed how to update and change CII to be more accurate, disagreed on if carbon capture should be included in these calculations, strategized how to revise data reporting systems based on these calculations, and more.

The IMO is spending a substantial amount of time tweaking calculations that are premised upon assumptions to get to the end goal that everyone cares about “What are the emissions from the ship and how do we reduce them?” But what if we could skip the assumptions and estimates and jump directly to that end state? SailPlan has the answer: real-time emissions monitoring.

SailPlan’s system, compliant with IMO regulations, allows vessel operators to report their actual measured emissions along with CII, EEDI, and EEXI, in real-time. Real-time emissions monitoring omits the need for and potential bias and errors that come with calculations while also ensuring the most accurate data is reported internally to company leadership and empowers companies to report externally to customers, government, the public and other stakeholders.

Implementing real-time emissions monitoring globally would allow the IMO to move past discussing how to estimate emissions, and instead focus on obtaining the most accurate emissions data. Climate initiatives like carbon capture would already be included in that measurement. CII, EEDI, and EEXI would be automatically determined.

SailPlan’s recommendation for the United Nations: skip the calculations and use the most up-to-date and accurate technology to determine emissions, which is real-time emissions monitoring technology. This will allow the IMO and global partners to focus on HOW to get to zero-emissions reporting without getting stuck in the details.

Photo credit: IMO