How to Offset Your Carbon Emissions When Travelling

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON ECO-AGE.COM

It is no secret that travel has a heavy environmental footprint, particularly if you're travelling by air as it burns large amounts of fossil fuels. In fact, tourism accounts for 8% of global gas emissions.

One solution might be to dramatically reduce or even avoid air travel and where possible take the train instead. But in reality, avoiding flying isn’t always possible or indeed desirable. Whether you're travelling for work or to visit friends and relatives that are far away, taking three trains and two buses to get there isn’t always a viable solution. Sometimes flying really is the only way to go. 

There is also an argument to be had in favour of simply travelling for leisure, as it can be such an enriching experience, if done consciously. No one should sacrifice the opportunity to broaden their horizons, gain new perspectives and learn about other cultures, other people and themselves. Let’s be honest, we all need that Eat Pray Love journey at one point in our lives.

So for those unable to choose an alternate method of travel, offsetting your carbon emissions is a good way to alleviate the impact you are having on the planet. Offsetting your carbon emissions means that you compensate the emissions caused by your journey by funding different environmental projects such as reforestation or investing in renewable energy sources that save carbon dioxide. 

There are various different online schemes that can help you offset your carbon emissions and the one you choose is entirely up to you. One thing to keep in mind is that offsetting your footprint doesn’t mean you get a ‘free pass’ and can take endless long-haul flights without an impact. Offsetting is really just a mitigation method for when you can’t avoid it. Additionally, consider flying economy class as the load factor has a big impact - in fact a study by the World Bank has shown that flying Business class increases your emissions up to three times. 

So how do you offset your carbon emissions? 

The good news is that it’s actually very easy to offset your emissions for any travel - personal or business - or even your general household or business footprint. Some airlines also let your offset your carbon footprint directly with them, but if they don't here's how you do it:

  1. Calculate your flight's carbon footprint
    Let’s take a London Heathrow to Edinburgh return flight as an example. All you need to do is type the departure and arrival airports into a free online calculator and select which class you are flying with (economy, right?). The calculator will then find out what kind of impact your flight has had in tonnes of C02 per kilometre. That London - Edinburgh fight would, for example, have a footprint of 0.168 tonnes.

  2. Choose your offset scheme
    The second and last step is to choose what program to offset your carbon footprint with. You will see that prices vary depending on the project and it is entirely up to you which one you choose, but we love the ones that have both an environmental and a social angle. The London to Edinburgh flight could cost you anything from £1.32 to £12.95 to offset.

Here are a few ideas for programmes to use to offset your emissions:

Climatecare is a B-Corp certified company and holds a Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development. So far it has provided families with 8 billion litres of safe water and has reduced 32.6 million tonnes of C02. Its portfolio of programmes includes delivering safe water to people in Kenya, distributing efficient stoves in Ghana and providing rural communities in India with clean energy. 

Carbon Footprint is a certified Carbon Neutral company, financially supporting some UK projects by reinvesting a proportion of the profits into projects such as improving the efficiency of homecooking equipment. Its portfolio of carbon reduction projects includes clean drinking water programs, funding wind farms and hydroelectric and solar power plants.

If you would like to offset your business carbon footprint, Natural Capital Partners and Carbon Neutral are your best bet. 

Jil Carrara