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How can I offset my flights emissions?

How can I offset my flights emissions?

 

Flying is a huge part of my life, both with work and in my personal life.  And although extremists may say no to flying; big boys don’t cry & eco warriors don’t fly:  Because air travel emits enormous amounts of CO2 and almost completely blows an individuals carbon budget for the year, assuming they fly for more than just a few hours.  It seems difficult to imagine not flying.  It is a part of modern life for so many people and going ‘cold turkey’ on flying doesn’t seem a realistic approach, or one which could be universally adopted.  Would we want to Skype in for relatives weddings?  Or take a cargo ship to be at a loved-one’s bedside?

 

In an attempt to reassure my feelings of guilt for flying so much, I have come across carbon offsetting.  At the moment it seems very few passengers choose to offset.  Virgin Atlantic says that less than 1% of its emissions were voluntarily offset by passengers in 2014/2015.  A global study of passengers and their willingness to buy carbon offsets identified the cost, a lack of understanding about carbon credits and emissions from aviation, mistrust in the value of carbon offsets, and the perception that airlines should shoulder more of the cost of offsets instead of passing it on to customers as reasons passengers are reluctant to offset their flights.  However, there are numerous websites, which calculate the amount of CO2 that your flight will emit and then works out how much you could pay a company to counterbalance the pollution by investing in a green project elsewhere:

 

https://www.atmosfair.de/en/kompensieren/flug

http://www.climatecare.org/home.aspx

http://calculator.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx?lang=en-GB&tab=3

https://clear-offset.com/carbon-offset-flights.php

 

For instance a return from London to New York, in economy class, pollutes over 3,400 kg of CO2 (roughly the same amount of CO2 saved through adopting a vegan diet for 1 year).  This can be offset for £70, according to atmosfair.de.  The money goes to projects, some plant trees and others invest in renewables, but there is lots of information on the projects on the respective websites.  Atmosfair.de gives the user the opportunity to select the scheme they would like to contribute towards.

 

However, carbon offsetting has a lot of critics.  Joseph Romm of climateprogress.org compares it to “trying to save the Arctic by collecting left-over ice cubes and shipping them up north.”  Statements like Joseph’s make out that offsetting is for fools.  However, I think that there is clearly a hierarchy of action, which can be taken: Don’t fly, fly with the most efficient airline (always in economy) and offset.  In a world where flying is not really optional for a lot of people, offsetting seems a good compromise.  Pick more efficient airlines, AirFrance is best.  And pick a verified carbon offsetting scheme.


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