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Carbon neutral air travel

Carbon neutral air travel

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Globally, flying counts towards 5% of all greenhouse gas emissions. A return flight from London to Rome, emits almost 240 kg of carbon dioxide.

Globally, flying counts towards 5% of all greenhouse gas emissions. A return flight from London to Rome, emits almost 240 kg of carbon dioxide.

Carbon neutral air travel
And according to recent research, there are 17 countries in the world where the average person produces less CO2 than this in a year.

What exactly is a carbon footprint?

You’ve likely heard about carbon footprints by now – the measure of the amount of greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere by a particular human activity. Greenhouse gases are any gases that absorb and re-emit heat into the atmosphere, keeping the atmosphere warmer than it should be.

Because these gases are released as a result of any human activity, the amounts they are released in can be as small as the actions of an individual, or as large as the collective actions of a whole country. It is measured as tons of carbon dioxide emitted per year – which comes from both the release of CO2 itself or of any of its equivalent gases, including methane and nitrous oxide. Each of these greenhouse gases has a “global warming potential” (GWP). According to Ecometrica, GWP indicates “the amount of warming a gas causes over a given period of time”.  

You can calculate your carbon footprint for anything you might do, from going to the grocery store to flying to another country. And as different as those activities might be on your pocket, so is the amount of greenhouse gases released by each of them.

How much does flying contribute?

According to Climate Neutral Group, flying contributes to 40% of carbon emissions in the travel industry, followed by other forms of transportation that jointly make up 32%, and accommodation contributing 24%. Globally, flying counts towards 5% of all greenhouse gas emissions. And, locally, a return flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town, emits almost 500 kg of carbon dioxide.

How can I help?

While it is almost impossible to fly commercially without carbon emissions, you can take individual steps to reduce your carbon footprint while travelling. When it comes to booking your flights, you can try to make the trip carbon neutral. This is when you calculate the emissions your trip will generate, working out what the monetary value of those emissions would be, and then contributing financially to a project that works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the same amount. These types of projects include initiatives that plant trees, support solar or wind power, or reducing communities’ dependency on fossil fuels.

The Woodland Trust is unsurprisingly committed to planting trees to offset carbon emissions, and runs an emission scheme. You can donate as much as you like, but as a rough guide every £100 donated will help the organization care for enough woodland to capture and store around 4 tonnes of carbon. You can also donate to plant and dedicate a tree to a loved one with the National Trust. Starting at £5 to fund a sapling in the name of your loved one, a whopping but worthy £2,500 will allow for the planting of a football pitch sized area of woodland!

From the beginning of 2020, British Airways have made a promise to offset all flights within the UK as part of your flight’s cost, and you are able to offset longer trips as a top-up when you book your trip. As not all airlines have their own scheme, and in some cases are not especially transparent as to how they use your money to offset your flight, a good place to head is the Climate Care project, where you can calculate and offset your flight directly.

And of course, the benefit of living in the UK is that it’s just a hop on the Eurostar across the English Channel to connect to Europe’s extensive train network, and to more destinations that you could wish for. You can check out future destination ideas by visiting the Trainline’s European travel page.

And according to recent research, there are 17 countries in the world where the average person produces less CO2 than this in a year.

What exactly is a carbon footprint?

You’ve likely heard about carbon footprints by now – the measure of the amount of greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere by a particular human activity. Greenhouse gases are any gases that absorb and re-emit heat into the atmosphere, keeping the atmosphere warmer than it should be.

Because these gases are released as a result of any human activity, the amounts they are released in can be as small as the actions of an individual, or as large as the collective actions of a whole country. It is measured as tons of carbon dioxide emitted per year – which comes from both the release of CO2 itself or of any of its equivalent gases, including methane and nitrous oxide. Each of these greenhouse gases has a “global warming potential” (GWP). According to Ecometrica, GWP indicates “the amount of warming a gas causes over a given period of time”.  

You can calculate your carbon footprint for anything you might do, from going to the grocery store to flying to another country. And as different as those activities might be on your pocket, so is the amount of greenhouse gases released by each of them.

How much does flying contribute?

According to Climate Neutral Group, flying contributes to 40% of carbon emissions in the travel industry, followed by other forms of transportation that jointly make up 32%, and accommodation contributing 24%. Globally, flying counts towards 5% of all greenhouse gas emissions. And, locally, a return flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town, emits almost 500 kg of carbon dioxide.

How can I help?

While it is almost impossible to fly commercially without carbon emissions, you can take individual steps to reduce your carbon footprint while travelling. When it comes to booking your flights, you can try to make the trip carbon neutral. This is when you calculate the emissions your trip will generate, working out what the monetary value of those emissions would be, and then contributing financially to a project that works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the same amount. These types of projects include initiatives that plant trees, support solar or wind power, or reducing communities’ dependency on fossil fuels.

The Woodland Trust is unsurprisingly committed to planting trees to offset carbon emissions, and runs an emission scheme. You can donate as much as you like, but as a rough guide every £100 donated will help the organization care for enough woodland to capture and store around 4 tonnes of carbon. You can also donate to plant and dedicate a tree to a loved one with the National Trust. Starting at £5 to fund a sapling in the name of your loved one, a whopping but worthy £2,500 will allow for the planting of a football pitch sized area of woodland!

From the beginning of 2020, British Airways have made a promise to offset all flights within the UK as part of your flight’s cost, and you are able to offset longer trips as a top-up when you book your trip. As not all airlines have their own scheme, and in some cases are not especially transparent as to how they use your money to offset your flight, a good place to head is the Climate Care project, where you can calculate and offset your flight directly.

And of course, the benefit of living in the UK is that it’s just a hop on the Eurostar across the English Channel to connect to Europe’s extensive train network, and to more destinations that you could wish for. You can check out future destination ideas by visiting the Trainline’s European travel page.

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