Air travel has a greater climate impact per passenger than any other form of travel. One long-haul return flight can produce more carbon dioxide per passenger than the average UK motorist produces in one year. Business class is particularly harmful because it has a lower people-per-volume ratio account, that is far fewer passengers for the same emissions. Despite knowing the effects of air travel on our climate we all travel, sometimes for work and sometimes for leisure. The good news is that air travel is easy to measure and, therefore, offset.
Projected Air Travel Emissions
Carbon emissions from air travel are projected to steadily rise over time and could potentially consume one quarter of the global emissions budget to keep the temperature rise to 1.5°C by 2050. The aviation industry has implemented a goal to cap emissions levels at the 2020 amount, with future emission rises from that point entirely offset through projects developed within aviation or with partner organisations. While this initiative is a practical step in the right direction, it will be extremely difficult to avoid rising above 2020 emissions, as the industry is expected to continue to grow for at least a further 20 years. Unfortunately, new sustainable technologies are implemented slowly in the aviation industry because of their high costs and the need for strict safety precautions.
International air travel emissions fall outside the scope of the 2015 Paris Agreement. A United Nations scheme called CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) has been introduced by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. Some 192 countries agreed to the offsetting scheme in 2016 through the UN’s aviation agency. In addition to offsetting greenhouse gas emissions, carbon credits can also support natural habitats, create jobs and improve health and education for local communities.
Some airlines give passengers the option of offsetting their flight when they buy a ticket. There is much confusion over the purpose and legitimacy of carbon offsets, especially when there is lack of transparency on how it was measured or what project it is supporting.
One of the most important elements of a carbon credit is its credibility; offset buyers have the right to choose where their money is spent and to know that it is going to worthwhile and ongoing offset projects. How do passengers know that the airline in question has the proper processes in place to correctly measure total emissions? In many cases it can be an unsatisfactory calculation. Most airlines like to measure from point A to point B, without considering other factors such as fuel burned circling an airport. This means the designated offset may not cover the emissions of the flight.
Offsetting does not prevent the emissions from occurring. But it does so much to reduce your carbon footprint. The Carbon Neutral online calculator helps organisations measure and offset their travel emissions. It’s equipped to calculate emissions from a variety of air travel scenarios. Carbon Neutral also offers a range of offsets from projects in Australia and globally to further reduce your carbon footprint.
Corporate Travel Agent
For those entities using a corporate travel agent, flights can be easily offset. Ask for a periodic printout of all flights and it is likely to also have emissions factors showing against each flight. Alternatively, ask the agent to work with us to provide options of carbon offset projects and pricing.
 Netherlands Centre for Energy Conservation and Environmental Technology