Have you ever heard the phrase carbon offsetting and thought “what the heck is that”? This concept only came to my attention the other day, when my favourite blogger Jacklyn McCosker, asked whether people offset their flights, and I had no idea what she was talking about! After doing some research, I started to realise how important it is and wanted to bring this to your attention.
Carbon offsetting is a way to prevent, reduce, or remove greenhouse gas emissions that have been released into the atmosphere. The idea is that offsetting your emissions will counteract the emissions being released elsewhere. This is most commonly done for airline travel, because of its high contribution to global carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, aviation is responsible for 2% of global carbon dioxide emissions. That might not seem like a lot, but let’s break that down into numbers we’ll understand.
Globally, the aviation industry uses 5 million barrels of fuel per day. There are 42 litres in a barrel, which means (if I’ve done the math correctly), that we use 210 million litres of fuel in one day! That’s almost 10,000 times as much fuel as the average American uses for their car in one year, and that is just in one day! This number is only expected to rise, with more flights per day, and airlines offering cheaper flights, meaning more people can afford to fly!
So, we’ve established that flying is really bad news for the environment, and as someone who flies quite a bit, this really upset me. Previously, I didn’t even stop to think about the effect my travel was having on the environment. I knew a little, but really, I didn’t think it was this bad.
Carbon offsetting is one way to counteract the negative impacts that come with flying. This can often be done directly through the airline when you book your ticket, and doesn’t actually cost that much money! Thankfully, Australia has strict regulations (check out The National Carbon Offset Standard for more info), so it is fairly reliable that your money is being used correctly. They calculate how much it will cost to offset a flight based on a few variables: total carbon emissions produced by the flight, which is then divided by how many seats are filled, and that number is then multiplied by the cost of offsetting 1 to\n of carbon.
You can offset your flights in a few different ways, but the two most common include: environmental, which maintains habitat of native animals, prevention of deforestation or planting trees, or it can be social, which include employment of local people, or funds research into improving biofuels etc.
So, if you fly regularly, it is highly worthwhile offsetting your flights to counteracting the negative impact. You can also reduce your impact in a few smaller ways. This includes;
- packing light, as the heavier the plane is, the more fuel it consumes
- closing the window shades when it is sunny, reducing the amount of air conditioning being used, and therefore reducing fuel consumption
- or simply, just fly less. Decide when it is necessary to fly, for example you could emit less carbon dioxide if you drove short distances (say, Canberra to Sydney), but if you are travelling across country, then it is more sustainable to fly!
I know this is a complicated and confusing topic, so please get in touch with me via the contact page or any of my socials if you have any questions!