In this post I’m going to list schemes run by carbon offsetting airlines as well as other ways of compensating for the carbon footprint and environmental impact of your travel choices.
If you’d prefer to watch a video version of this post there’s one here and at the foot of this page.
Carbon Offsetting Explained
Most people are familiar carbon offsetting but for those of you who aren’t here is a brief explanation.
Carbon offsetting is the process of making financial payments to projects and schemes that compensate for the carbon footprint that results from your habits and lifestyle, in this case air travel.
It needn’t be just for air travel of course, you could also participate in carbon offsetting if you travel by sea, by road, or not at all.
If you live off-grid in a tipi then your carbon footprint is going to be very low. On the other hand, if your drive a diesel car and jet around the world on business several times a year then your footprint is going to be considerably larger.
Whatever the size of your personal or your company’s carbon footprint you can offset your impact by sending voluntary donations to, for example, projects that siphon off methane gas at a landfill site, or a project that helps distribute environmentally friendly cooking stoves, or any other project that helps to lessen the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Carbon Offsetting And Reduction Scheme For International Aviation
IATA, the International Air Transport Association, describes it thus,
“Carbon offsetting is simply a way for individuals or organizations, in this case airline passengers and corporate customers, to “neutralize” their proportion of an aircraft’s carbon emissions on a particular journey by investing in carbon reduction projects.”https://www.iata.org/whatwedo/environment/Pages/carbon-offset.aspx
The IATA website then goes on to say that
“over 30 IATA member airlines have introduced an offset program either integrated into their web-sales engines or to a third party offset provider.”
It may be a voluntary contribution at the end of the checkout process or the offset payment may be built into the price.
Either way the money you pay goes to support low carbon, energy efficiency, educational, or renewable energy projects all over the world.
If your airline doesn’t have such a scheme you can still participate in carbon offsetting by making a payment using an offsetting website.
Critics of carbon offsetting have suggested that it simply encourages people to continue to waste resources and even worsens the effect by making people even more complacent.
But others point out that it increases awareness and leads to a change in habits and lifestyle that reduces a person’s overall carbon footprint.
In the meantime, if you want or need to travel by air then you have this choice.
Carbon Offsetting Schemes Airlines
So here’s a list of airlines that have some kind of carbon offsetting scheme.
Air France have a carbon offset program that supports solar stoves in Bolivia and other projects.
Air Italy – details pending
Air New Zealand provides its offsetting through a partnership with
ClimateCare to fund both domestic and international projects.
Alaska Airlines have a scheme in partnership with Carbonfund.org which allows you to offset some or the entire carbon footprint of your flight.
Austrian Airlines‘ partners are Climate Austria.
British Airways give their customers the option to choose whether to donate in support of projects in the UK and Africa.
BudgetAir is a price comparison site for flights, so when you’re considering which airline to use perhaps the airline’s carbon offset scheme might influence your choices.
Cathay Pacific has a program called Fly Greener which supports several projects.
China Airlines have also partnered with ClimateCare to help environmentally friendly projects.
Delta Airlines give passengers the choice to support one of three of The Nature Conservancy’s carbon offsetting projects.
EVA Air is another of ClimateCare’s airline partners.
Etihad Airways is a founding member of the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC) which is
dedicated to advance the aviation industry’s commitment to sustainable business practices by developing technology with the promise of producing a clean, alternative fuel supply.Source: Etihad – Our Responsibility
Finnair‘s have a scheme that supports energy efficient cooking stoves in Mozambique.
Harbour Air Seaplanes are a fully carbon neutral airline and they’ve celebrated 10 years of offsetting in partnership with the Offsetters organisation. Not only that, in April 2019 they announced plans to covert their entire fleet of De Havilland Beavers, Otters and Twin Otters and one Cessna Caravan to electric power .
Japan Airlines give their support direct to two projects without an intermediary.
JetBlue have also partnered with Carbonfund.org .
JetStar Airways have a scheme called Fly Carbon Neutral Program and it’s available to all passengers travelling on Jetstar Airways (JQ) and Jetstar Pacific (BL) flights.
Kenya Airways have a Quality Assured Standard (QAS) approved program supporting a project called Kasigau Corridor.
KLM offer a carbon compensation service called CO2Zero which is voluntary and can be included in your online booking.
Lufthansa have partnered with MyClimate (more details below) to support two projects, one of which provides solar powered lighting in Ethiopia.
Malaysia Airlines announced (in 2018) the successful implementation of SkyBreathe® Fuel Efficiency, an advanced system to reduce fuel costs and CO2 emissions of their fleet.
Mango Air of South Africa also has a Quality Assured Standard (QAS) approved program supporting a project in Ghana.
Nature Air of Costa Rica is the world’s first carbon neutral airline having achieved the status in 2004.
Nok Air are a budget airline in Thailand and the company is part owned by Thai Airways (see below). I can’t see anything on their site about carbon offsetting but perhaps Thai Airways have built them into their scheme.
Qantas have been providing carbon offsetting for over ten years and their arrangement is called Qantas Future Planet.
Qatar Airways have an environmental management system that is certified to the highest level of IATA’s Environmental Assessment programme.
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) compensate for the carbon footprint of their flights with the help of Natural Capital Partners.
Skyscanner is another price comparison site for airlines. Again, when you’ve drawn up a shortlist for your next flight, check back here to see if your airline of choice is on this list.
SriLankan Airlines‘ FlyGreen program provides supports small hydropower plants in Sri Lanka.
South African Airways are another support of the Gyapa project in Ghana through their optional donations.
Swiss Air support biomass and cooking stove projects through their optional donation scheme.
TAP Air Portugal support a project called Ecomapua in Brazil through their voluntary payment service.
Thai Airways also invite you to make a donation at the checkout, and their program is audited by the Carbon Offset Approval Scheme of United Kingdom.
Thomas Cook Airlines have set themselves a target of reducing carbon emissions by 12% by 2020 measured against a 2008 baseline.
Tigerair give you the option to make a donation to “Fly Carbon Neutral” with an optional payment.
TUI Group‘s Care Foundation was formed in 2016 as a platform for projects to enhance the positive impacts of tourism. It includes the TUI Academy “which aims to empower 10,000 youngsters by 2020 through professional education and training to enhance opportunities for disadvantaged youth living in and around holiday destinations.”
United Airlines have a program called Eco-Skies CarbonChoice, which they say, “…provides customers with the opportunity to reduce the carbon footprint associated with their air travel through the purchase of carbon offsets”.
Virgin Atlantic announced a new carbon offsetting partnership with ClimateCare in March 2019. Worth remembering on your next flight to Barbados.
Virgin Australia have also celebrated over ten years of carbon offsetting and can be built into the ticket price if you so choose.
Westjet support a biomass energy project called Toronto Organics through a third partnership.
Carbon Footprint Calculations
If your airline doesn’t have a publicised carbon offsetting arrangement it could still be making a contribution through other means.
If you would prefer to calculate your carbon footprint independently of any airline ticketing price, then there are ways to do so.
MyClimate.org has an easy to use calculator that tells you how much carbon dioxide your journey will generate whether you travel by aircraft, ship, or motor car.
The website says that the maximum amount of CO2 a person should produce per year in order to halt climate change is 0.6 tonnes.
But the amount of CO2 a citizen of the EU produces each year on average is 8.4 tonnes.
So, an economy class flight for two people from London, Gatwick to Rome will generate 1.2 tonnes of CO2, so they suggest an offset of £25 for projects.
A business class flight for two people from London, Heathrow to New York will generate 8.0 tonnes of CO2, so the suggestion is a minimum of £171 for projects.
The project might be to help smallhold farmers in Nicaragua with reforestation or an education project teaching young people about climate change.
Similar sites and schemes include the aforementioned Carbonfund.org,
So you see there are ways in which you can make a positive contribution to combating climate change while still enjoying air travel.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight while work continues into developing cleaner biofuels and better batteries.
We may not yet be flying around in electrically powered aircraft using electricity generated from sustainable sources, but they are coming.
In the meantime you can still use air travel and help with all kinds of environmental projects.
And if you’re still not convinced then fly less often but don’t forget that your trips by road or sea will also have a carbon cost.