Best carbon offsetting schemes

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  • Mark Caswell


    We are researching an article on carbon offsetting schemes. I’d be interested if anyone has experience in offsetting their flights, and which scheme they use.

    We have written about a few. Many of them work across arilines

    (powered by Lufthansa)


    (British Airways)

    Cathay Pacific
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    Travel & Climate
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    I have started to use Offset Earth as it is relatively straightforward if perhaps not so truly reflective of my travel.


    Hi Mark

    I wish I could understand the theory behind airlines offering carbon offset schemes. Whilst I gladly contribute to ‘save the earth’ in many different ways – I don’t contribute to airline carbon offset schemes. Selfishly, I just need to get from A to B and pay my fare to do so..



    I agree with Martyn, and I have yet to be convinced that any of these carbon offset schemes are of real value.
    Even my son who works for an organisation that deals with climate change management and mitigation is unable to consider them as anything other than a very tiny part of the solution.


    Hi Mark
    Also agree with Martyn & capetonianm
    They’re ultimately “Feel Good” schemes to make us feel less guilty or that we’re doing something environmentally friendly

    I’m flying tomorrow, my contribution to carbon reduction / offset is simple…..

    1)Taking public transport to the airport rather than private car
    2) Pack minimally to lower aircraft weight
    3) Use my Hive to manage my heating at home more efficiently whilst I’m away
    4) Not treating myself to beef based meals every night whilst I’m away
    5) I could go on ……. : )

    If airlines want us to plant trees , then add a small surcharge on to the price of a ticket.

    3 users thanked author for this post.


    The aviation industry accounts for around two per cent of global emissions and the environmental impact of flying has become an increasingly important topic of public conversation.

    A recent report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) suggested that air miles should be axed as they encourage travellers to take more flights. This recommendation was aimed squarely at frequent flyers, who are also more likely to be travelling in business class.

    Just 15 per cent of the UK population were responsible for taking 70 per cent of flights, according to the CCC.

    Carbon offsetting is one way in which corporations and consumers can seek to negate the impact of their carbon footprint through schemes such as reforestation. However, critics of the practice say it is not the same as avoiding the damage that flying does in the first place.

    Justin Francis, CEO of Responsible Travel, previously told Telegraph Travel: “Carbon offsets are no substitute for carbon reduction. Carbon offsets are a fig leaf and, as we said when we dropped them in 2009, a dangerous distraction from reduction.”


    I’ve never paid the extra to offset carbon emissions. I don’t know if it’s still the case, but Swiss even had the audacity to charge a service fee (or whatever they called it) on top of the offset fee.

    My main objection is like so many NGO’s, how much is spent on admin and “Director’s” fees. How many tree’s really get planted and if the government was really serious about climate change there are so many other things they could do, for example reduce the number of street lights burning between, say midnight and 5 am, especially on motorways where they are really not needed for the few vehicles that travel at those times. Enforce large office blocks to turn off lights. Allow everyone so much electricity at a normal price, and above so many KwH put a surcharge on the amount consumed. People will then quickly learn not to leave lights burning, computers on etc.


    I can’t help wondering whether it wouldn’t be better, more cost-effective, more fun perhaps, more educational for the kids maybe, if – at least for those who have a garden or some land – we didn’t literally plant a tree ourselves for each flight taken? Perhaps tie your laminated boarding card to it as a living record of your travels 😉 And for those who don’t have their own space, maybe there’s public land – a park or common perhaps – where the council would allow tree planting?

    It’s easy to pay a bit of extra money to make ourselves feel good or assuage whatever guilt we may have about flying, and have someone else hopefully spend it wisely. But maybe if we went to the effort of planting trees ourselves it might make it all a bit more ‘real’?

    (I read with interest the recent reports that the most efficient and cost-effective way to address the climate crisis is to literally plant billions of trees – something that surely could be fairly easily done at every level, from individuals, to communities, corporations, governments… Perhaps a good use of government or charity – or carbon offset scheme – money might be to provide, say, online tools to help people identify the most suitable type of tree for whatever location they are able to plant in?)


    Expanding on what ‘canucklad’ mentioned re trees.
    Would it not be a good idea for the airlines themselves to develop tree planting projects.
    They would capture the customers imagination and I believe that they would buy into such projects that are also good ‘soft positive marketing opportunities for the airlines.
    Properly handled a lot of trees could be planted I believe.

    Tom Otley

    I think a lot of them have, and some of those initiatives can be seen by clicking the above links.

    You can also see some of them by looking at this collection of recent news stories on this site.

    I’m afraid the idea of planting a tree, though educational, is unlikely to be seen by our children as anything other than quaint in a year or so.

    Pilita Clark, who for a time was the Transport Correspondent for the Financial Times, published a piece about this today (you need a subscription to read it, but I imagine many of you have that).

    Five things I’ve learnt about saving the world
    Climate change is making us rethink the way we eat, dress, travel and work


    [quote quote=978034]I’m afraid the idea of planting a tree, though educational, is unlikely to be seen by our children as anything other than quaint in a year or so.[/quote]

    To add to that, it’s also pretty much pointless, unless it[s done in a strategic way , geographically as well as arboreal mix etc.
    Aviation gets a crap rap, Greta’s gang see it as an easy target and unfortunately the industry behaves like a deer with a bulls eye as a birthmark, skulking about the forest trying to avoid the ever-increasing hunters jumping on the bandwagon

    Never thought I’d find myself agreeing with a Frenchman ( Only joking) but Macron hit the nail on the head when challenging Brazil’s government.

    Me planting a tree to offset my travels wouldn’t even be a drop in the ocean compared to our total apathetic approach to the amount of tree’s being destroyed in the time it took me to type the last word, never mind the last sentence !!

    Airplanes don’t destroy, they bring people together , promoting friendship and peace as we discover that we’re not that much different from each other.Just think about a Carpenters song and you’ll get the idea !

    Tom Otley

    The Compensaid tool is interesting. You put in your flight, but then you are offered a sliding scale between how much sustainable aviation fuel you want to buy, and how much offsetting in terms of tree planting.

    To take the example of my next flight (business class, London to New York), it offers a choice between immediately offsetting the effect of my flight, by effectively purchasing enough Sustainable Aviation Fuel for the journey, or planting trees which will offset it in 20 years time.

    Depending on which end of the scale you go to, the price differs hugely.


    That’s what it is if you just plant trees.


    And that’s what it is for fuel.

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    Qantas has an easy to use carbon offset scheme and it’s company policy in my outfit to always offset flights.
    It’s a simple tick box as part of the booking process: No thanks, use points or pay. RC


    Here’s another take on it all

    Just returned from a weekend away in Ireland and got chatting about climate change, as we navigated ourselves through the rush hour madness heading north from the airport.

    Imagine my horror to learn , that in order to keep all involved in the Private / Public Partnership building the M£ & other Motorways happy , the EU & Irish governments promised the key stakeholders that they wouldn’t invest in new train routes that would jeopardise projected toll takings !!

    So why should I , here in the UK ease my conscience by paying a carbon offset for a 45-minute flight when at the other end the authorities are hypocritically encouraging car travel to as a revenue spinner !!


    Perhaps tie your laminated boarding card to it as a living record of your travels 😉

    What, and use all that plastic??!! Shame on you!! LOL

    A colleague recently informed me with great authority that climate change is the greatest challenge facing the planet. He was wrong. It isn’t. Overpopulation (which, of course, is a major contributor to the contributors to climate change (yes I did write that correctly)) is the greatest challenge facing the planet.

    It doesn’t matter how many “Impossible Burgers” you switch to or whether you follow Greta’s advice in every single respect – if the global population continues to grow, more resources will be consumed, and no amount of “sustainability” or offset will be enough. Yet many countries are seeking to increase their populations in order to offset the ageing of the population saying they need the tax receipts in order to fund old age care, or in order to ensure economic growth, or whatever other (generally spurious) reason they think makes it justifiable. Again, it isn’t.

    I, for one, would be grateful if the conversation changed to this topic, which is far more serious and, if we’re frank, probably easier to fix. I am not, of course, advocating forced sterilisation or any of the other excessive population control measures which have in the past been forced on populations of certain countries – but a lot more education, and family planning resources, and a sensible governmental attitude and approach to population “growth”, would do more to save the planet than any amount of aviation fuel carbon offsets.

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