That’s it, you’re going on holiday next month and you’re in the starting blocks to spend a wonderful time visiting what Thailand has the best to offer you! You’re already dreaming of that trek in the northern part of the country and the after-trek beach time you will indulge yourself with. You’ve planned everything, found your eco-friendly lodging for each step of your trip. You learnt a few words of Thai and your suitcase packing list is done. A dream come true, until you realize the amount of carbon your flight will represent.
Can you travel far away and without feeling guilty for your carbon emissions? What solutions do you have? Are there Pro’s and Con’s or things to be aware of when it comes to Carbon compensation.
What’s your carbon weight?
Of course, you know that trains emit less carbon than planes, but you do not have three months to go to Thailand from London using the train only and you’ve already planned your trip responsibly for every other step of the trip. So, the plane was the only option. But finding out how much carbon your trip will emit can be a real difficult point to start with!
From point A to Point B
The first thing to know when taking a flight is that a direct flight is your best option. Of course, it will cost you more than what you were initially thinking… but it’s a first step to less carbon emissions. Because you must know the most important part of a flight’s carbon emissions is take-off and landing. So maybe the shopping budget you had for the duty free during that stop-over can be better spent.
How efficient is the airline you are travelling with?
Another interesting point is that some airlines are more fuel-efficient than others. Depending on the age of the fleet, or the design of the cabin, planes are more efficient than others. Before booking your flight next time, you can do a little research. Here is some official data that we found
Make the calculation
You really want to know how much your flight will emit? Easy, there are a few carbon emissions calculators out there that can help you. Some of them are linked to carbon compensation programs like Green Tripper and others are totally free like this one, from the carbonfootprint.com
Lost in the jungle of carbon compensators? Who wouldn’t.
If you want to be sure you are calculating right, check the method of calculation used by the calculator you are using. Is it based on an official source? A good one that has set the reference worldwide is the calculation method of the French agency for environment and energy ADEME, called the carbone base.
Another very simple way to know how much CO2 for your flight is that a lot of airlines, especially those offering a compensation program give you the amount of carbon your ticket represents. Because the emissions of your seat might not be the same as that other passenger that you saw in the queue before boarding. Are you flying in economy, business or first class? Are you checking in luggage and what is the weight of your bag? That will impact the fuel per seat that you represent.
Compensating your emissions.
Did you know that a Paris/New York flight could represent the amount of carbon of a year’s heating emissions for an average household? #feelingguiltyagain.
Now that you know how much your flight represents how can you compensate it and should you?
Maybe your airline offers compensation
Many IATA airlines offer compensation offset options when you book your tickets. It is a simple way to compensate the carbon emissions. It is not already included in the price of your ticket. The compensation program your money will go to, will depend on the airline you will be travelling with.
If you did not book your flight yourself, but went through a travel agency, more and more of them claim to be carbon neutral.
Think before you compensate
If you prefer choosing the compensation program yourself, volunteer compensation for individuals does exist. One important thing to look at when you are compensating your carbon with money is what exactly the compensation program is all about. Does it include social dimensions or is it only environment based? What projects are funded with your compensation? The transparency on the programs has increased, but you might face a bit of research before you choose your program. There are recognized and certified compensation programs out there and picking one of those could be a good thing to start with http://www.myclimate.org/
Should I compensate or not?
There is a real debate on whether you should compensate your carbon emissions or not. Being carbon neutral is now a goal for many industries and many countries, but as an individual it’s essentially volunteer based.
One major point in the debate is that the compensation reduces guilt from polluting and does not encourage the reduction of the emissions. Of course the best way to reduce our carbon footprint is to make less emissions.
But honestly how many travellers would decide not to fly based on the carbon footprint of their flight? So having the choice to be able to compensate the emissions is a good one.