Carbon Offsetting

What is offsetting?

Carbon offsetting is when you pay money to schemes that absorb carbon dioxide. Typically people pay to absorb their portion of the carbon dioxide emitted during a flight. The money funds projects around the world like tree planting or providing clean cooking equipment, that absorb or remove carbon dioxide, counter-balancing the emissions from your portion of the flight. 


Why double offset?
Offsetting activities can take many years to absorb carbon dioxide and are not always effective. A flight releases greenhouse gas emissions instantly, whereas planting a tree to absorb those emissions can take many decades, creating a significant surplus of warming gasses in the intervening period. Offsetting is not perfect and should not be considered as exact .  We therefore want to encourage people to double offset, as a recognition that an offset if not a perfect solution and to better ensure that their emissions have been entirely removed in the long term.


If offsetting reduces my flying emission to zero - why can't I fly more and carry on offsetting?
Offsetting compensates for carbon emissions released from flying by investing in carbon-sink projects elsewhere. However, on a finite planet, this is not a sustainable long term approach. We need to be furthering all carbon sink activities to try and help reduce the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. If these measures are taken only to counter balance fossil fuel emissions we won't make any progress at all. 

Offsetting may be a useful way to reduce our emissions, but it is not the answer to climate change. The solution for clean air travel will likely be in the form of biofuels or electric flight, but at the moment neither technology is available commercially. Until they are, if people want to combat climate change through their flying habits, they should fly as little as they can, and if they do fly should offset their emissions.

Isn't offsetting for the rich?
No. Offsetting typically costs around 5% of the cost of the flight. If you flew from London to Dublin and back, single offsetting would typically cost between £2 and £6. A return flight from Washington to New York would cost between $2 and $8 [1][2].  If you can afford to fly you can afford to offset.

 

Fuel tax is extremely low on commercial flights and the negative impact of emissions is not priced in to the journey. We encourage people to consider the cost of the emissions as part of the costs of travel and to offset their emissions accordingly.

How can I offset?
See the resources section above for quick, easy and accredited offsetting projects.  

 

Learn more about offsetting here.

 

References