Ships carbon neutral is an indicator that activities associated with a product’s transportation release a net zero amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere. There are two main strategies for achieving carbon neutrality in shipping: offsetting greenhouse gas emissions and using alternative fuel sources. The first step to reaching carbon neutrality is calculating current emissions. This requires in-depth carbon analysis—the CarbonNeutral Protocol provides a set of requirements for assessment of emissions, which must be reported in units of carbon dioxide according to the 100-year potential of each gas and approved by independent, third-party verifiers.
Offsets achieve carbon neutrality by purchasing a carbon credit in metric tons, equivalent to the amount of GHGs released elsewhere. This credit is invested in renewable energy projects, as well as other projects that reduce emissions, like forest regeneration, replacement of inefficient technologies, and capture of GHGs before they enter the atmosphere. These projects must meet requirements such as internal monitoring, external verification, and accountability systems. Industry standards in accordance with the Kyoto protocol include the Voluntary Gold Standard (VGS) or the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS).
Some alternative fuel sources that might contribute towards carbon neutrality in shipping include biomass-derived fuels, like biofuel or biogas; hydrogen and synthetic non-carbon fuels, like ammonia; and synthetic fossil fuels like e-methanol.