In a few days my family and I will be going on holiday. Our destination – Thailand.
I have very mixed feelings about our trip, on one hand I’m so excited that we’re going to such a beautiful and welcoming country, on the other I feel absolutely rubbish about the fact that we will be on a 12 hour flight.
In 2017, the average footprint in the UK was 5.3 tonnes, using the WWF Footprint Calculator, my footprint for the last 12 months is above average at 8.3 tonnes (however according to the WWF Calculator below the national average). Sadly our return flights to Thailand will emit 7.88 tonnes of CO2.
However the IPCC reported that air travel is actually worse than just CO2 as planes emit gases and particles directly into the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere which change the concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases. These include ozone and methane which trigger the formation of condensation trails which contribute to our climate emergency.
Carbon offset programs counterbalance CO2 emissions or greenhouse gases produced by investing in reduce or avoid theirs.
Under CORSIA, airlines that exceed the baseline level of CO2 emissions for the year (which is the average of CO2 emissions from international aviation covered by the CORSIA for the years 2019 and 2020) will be required to offset their emissions.
The issue with carbon offset programs
Many people believe that carbon offset programs are just another form of greenwashing, as they will allow companies to buy green credentials without actually changing their policies, structures and procedures or will stop individuals from reducing their carbon footprint. There are also concerns that schemes that are being funded may not achieve the carbon savings promised, and that any additional savings would have happened anyway.
My carbon offset
Ultimately, the deciding to use the program comes down to you.
- If you decide to use the program because you feel guilty about your high carbon activities, then that’s not good.
- But if you decide to use it as part of reducing your carbon footprint, or because you want to be greener, then that is pretty good.
I decided to use Climate Care’s Calculator, to work out our emissions from the flights, now are a couple of examples of what my money is going to help fund.
LifeStraw Carbon For Water, Kenya
This project brings safe drinking water to more than 4.5m people in Western Kenya, while cutting 2.4m tonnes of CO2 emissions annually. LifeStraw allows families to purify water in their home, rather than boiling water for drinking over open fires. The gravity-driven filters require no electricity or consumables. In particular, the project leveraged carbon finance to employ 4,000 health trainers, who helped with distribution, education and monitoring.
Gyapa Stoves, Ghana
This project supports local entrepreneurs to manufacture and
distribute safe, efficient cookstoves to households in Ghana. Run
on the ground by our partners Relief International, the Gyapa stove
cuts charcoal use by up to 50%, saving families money and reducing
harmful smoke emissions. Cutting fuel requirements saves families as much as $100 dollars annually, at the same time protecting Ghana’s dwindling forests.