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Air Travel & Global Warming

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Global warming caused by human activities that release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is settled scientific fact, and air travel is known to be a major contributor to the problem. The numbers are disheartening: one person on a round-trip flight from New York to México City produces about 0.75 tons of CO2, from London about 2.5 tons, and from Sydney about 4.5 tons. To put these numbers in perspective, the average car in the US releases about 5 tons of CO2 per year. So flying round-trip from New York to México City is equivalent to driving for 2 months in the US, London is 6 months, and Sydney is 11 months.

Nevertheless, we still regard travel, even travel that requires flying long distances, as a net benefit for everyone involved, especially socially and ecologically responsible travel. Many third world countries and communities are looking for alternative paths of development from the ones being foisted on them, and the right kind travel can support these alternative efforts. Besides, there is an option available beyond prohibition. It is possible to mitigate or even negate the impact from air travel and everyday greenhouse gas producing activities, such as driving and home energy use, by using carbon-offset schemes.

Many companies offer offset schemes that allow individuals and businesses to make up for greenhouse gases they've released by funding projects that reduce greenhouse gases by an equal amount. Calculators are usually used to figure out the amount of carbon different activities release. Offsetting measures can then be purchased to fund projects that reduce an equal amount of greenhouse gases. Hence, carbon neutrality is achieved. Projects usually include activities that promote reforestation, sustainable development, and energy reduction.

Retail Carbon-offset Companies

Unfortunately, the carbon-offset industry is not well regulated, especially in the US. There are hundreds of sites on the web that will happily take your money and claim to offset your carbon production, and yes, of course, some are scams. Hopefully, nations will begin to regulate and audit retail providers of carbon offset schemes better. That said, our research has shown the following companies to be credible and effective:

atmosfair, Germany, www.atmosfair.de
Carbon Neutral, UK, www.carbonneutral.com
Climate Care, UK, www.climatecare.org, recommended by Rough Guide and Lonely Planet.
co2balance, UK, www.co2balance.com
Native Energy, US, www.nativeenergy.com
Sustainable Travel International, US, www.sustainabletravelinternational.org

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