Aircraft jet engine

Action: Offset the carbon emissions of a flight

If you HAVE to fly, you can offset the carbon emissions associated with your trip

When we book our holidays, ideally we would not be flying just for leisure – we should stay more locally and use trains. However, we have to be pragmatic and acknowledge that people want overseas holidays, and they want to get to their destinations as soon as possible. In those circumstances, please make efforts to “offset” the carbon emissions associated with your flight, which can go some way to redress the balance.

How does it work?

aircraft in flight

Based on the “polluter pays” principle, carbon offsetting involves calculating how much carbon dioxide is generated by your flight, and then making a payment to cover the cost of cancelling out the impact of that CO2 by funding projects that reduce or store carbon. The most obvious and popular ones are forest preservation and tree planting, but “carbon credits” are also awarded for projects that reduce fossil fuel use in other ways, such as windfarms, solar cookstoves, or better farming methods.

Some of the airlines will offer you the chance to offset your emissions at the time you book your flight. However, some of their schemes have proved controversial, with airlines accused of greenwashing their products. If you are serious about carbon offsetting, do your research carefully.

Some good starting points for this include this article from The Guardian, and the Wikipedia entry on carbon offsetting.

The cost of carbon offsetting will depend on the distance flown and your class of seat. For example, according to (try it!) a one way flight from Heathrow, London to JFK, New York in economy class (trip of 5,500km) for 2 travellers will result in 1.8 tonnes of CO2 being emitted. There are various assumptions made about the level of seat occupation on the aircraft and the aircraft type and efficiency when these calculations are made.

To offset this using will cost £40 GBP, or $56 USD, or E45 EUR (calculated at February 2022).

Why is this important?

Taking this action is important for a number of reasons:

  • if you use a reputable scheme, your money will genuinely be allocated to carbon reduction projects
  • these project are contributing to our efforts to control carbon dioxide levels and manage global warming
  • it provides us with a financial indicator of the environmental cost of the things we sometimes take for granted
  • it sets a good example to our children
  • it means you are accepting some responsibility for the damage you are doing by flying
  • learning about the environmental cost may deter you from flying!

Take action

Take action. Take responsibility. Think about the impact of your flying and the damage it does. If you have to book a flight, head on over to a carbon offset scheme such as and make a donation to offset your carbon emissions.

If you haven’t done so already, please sign up to our bulletin “Take Action” using the form below, and thank you for your support.

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