It might seem too good to be true, but it really is possible to fly without increasing your personal carbon footprint. Voluntary offsetting schemes, often sold with airline tickets, enable passengers to pay a small fee to fund environmental programmes around the world – offsetting your personal carbon footprint generated by a flight.
WHAT IS OFFSETTING?
Offsetting enables an individual or organisation to compensate for emissions created when they travel, by financing a reduction in emissions elsewhere – generally by purchasing carbon credits. In other words, if a flight generates 900kg of CO2 per-passenger, you could offset your share by buying a credit equivalent to mitigate 900kg of CO2. There are lots of offsetting schemes available – ranging from funding reforestation efforts, to investing in renewable energy projects, such as wind turbines or solar panels.
Some airlines already offset carbon emissions on certain flights, while others allow passengers to voluntarily offset their individual emissions when they buy their tickets.
HOW DOES VOLUNTARY OFFSETTING WORK?
If the emissions generated by your flight aren’t being automatically offset by the airline, you can still travel net zero. Voluntary offsetting is offered by an increasing number of airlines and requires passengers to ‘opt-in’ to an airline scheme for a small fee – often when buying your ticket. Offset schemes differ from airline to airline, and to ensure they deliver genuine environmental benefits, IATA member airlines commit to credible and independently validated programmes.
WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOUR AIRLINE DOESN’T OFFER OFFSETTING?
Even if your airline doesn’t offer its own scheme, there are a number of independent and verified carbon offsetting schemes available, ranging from wind and solar projects to reforestation efforts. However, to ensure the effectiveness of the carbon offset, it is important to invest in the right scheme.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO LOOK FOR IN INDEPENDENT OFFSETTING SCHEMES?
The most important thing to look for when selecting an independent scheme, is whether it has been verified by agencies such as the Gold Standard or Verified Carbon Standard. This ensures the environmental integrity of the scheme. The highest standard for carbon offsetting is the Quality Assurance Standard (QAS). QAS-approved offsets are checked against a 40-point checklist that includes emissions calculations, carbon reduction project selection and information provision.