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Carbon Offsets

By Jeff Steiner

Thanks to budget airlines and open borders it's never been easier to travel in Europe. Almost no matter where you are there is a cheap flight taking off near you. This opening up of the skies and democratisation of travel hasn't happen in a vacuum. The emissions that airplanes emit do have an impact on the environment through the production CO2s and other greenhouse gasses.

Aviation produces between 2-4% of the worlds CO2s or about 500 million tonnes*. I'm a believer in global warming but I don't think that we as a people can or should stop travelling by air.

One possible way to help the environment is to offset the CO2s produced when travelling by air. This can be done via carbon offsets. Offsetting your carbon emissions means you calculate the amount of CO2 you put into the air and offset that amount by paying a fee that goes to funding emissions reduction programs. Programs can include tree planting but others support renewable energy projects and efficiency programmes.

There are many sites that will calculate how much CO2 a flight will put into the atmosphere. For example according to ClimateCare a round trip flight between Geneva Switzerland and London Heathrow puts 0.190 tonnes of CO2 into the air and can be off set by paying £1.65. At TerraPass the CO2 output is 0.412 tons and that can be offset by paying £3.41. On the amount is 0.36 tonnes and the offset cost is £4.82 or £7.20 depending on the benchmark you use. Lastly The CarbonNeutral Company calculates that a London Heathrow to Geneva Switzerland round trip will output 0.2 tonnes of CO2 into the air and can be offset by paying £2.80 or £1.70 depending on the type of program you would like to fund.

I myself used to offset the emissions on a flight between Geneva and Los Angeles.

Does buying carbon offsets help? They can if done right but I don't believe they are the only step. Along with carbon offsets here are some other things you can do to help the environment when travelling by air:

Further Reading

Air Travel and Climate Change
Using Carbon Offsets to Neutralize Your Emissions
Carbon offset - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Aviation sources
Is it OK to fly? | Travel | The Guardian
The Geneva International Airport supports Climate Protection

Airline Links

Some airlines today have carbon offsetting schemes or related programs where they try to offset the CO2 they put into the air. These include British Airways, easyJet and flybe.

Other Sites

Open Directory - Science: Environment: Carbon Cycle: Carbon Management
ActonCO2 calculator
Carbon Clear
Offsetting Your Carbon Emissions from FrenchEntré

I'm not an expert and I've taken the stats and other information I found and made my own conclusions.

* This is my estimation based on the headline of this article.
It should be noted that the exact figure is fiercely debated and this could be a low number depending on who you talk to.