Budget carrier Easyjet has launched its own carbon offsetting scheme, promising to make it “the most transparent, trustworthy and efficient scheme by any airline in Europe.”

Funds collected through the Easyjet Carbon Offsetting programme (ECO) will initially be used to buy carbon credits from the Perlabi Hydroelectric Project in Ecuador, a scheme which has been certified by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Easyjet says that by buying credits directly from the project rather than using a middleman, it has been able to cut administration costs for ECO from around 25 per cent to 5 per cent. The scheme has attracted praise from the UK government, with the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Hilary Benn saying that he welcomed Easyjet’s “exemplary decision to use only certified offset credits that meet Kyoto standards, meaning that its customers can be sure that the carbon reductions are real, clear and accountable”.

Visitors to the Easyjet website can see how much it will cost them to offset the carbon emissions of a flight by clicking on the tree symbol on the carrier’s homepage, and choosing the departure and destination points from drop down menus. For example a one-way flight from Easyjet’s base at London Luton to Paris Charles De Gaulle equates to 56kg of carbon, or £0.73, while a journey from Liverpool to Berlin Schoenefeld works out at 92kg, or £1.20.

Emission levels are based on the length of flight, the fuel burn, and average load factor of Easyjet flights (currently 85 per cent), and passengers can request for the charge to be added to their ticket cost at the point of purchase. Currently the scheme is only available to online bookings, and the carrier says it has no plans to make the charges mandatory.

In other news Easyjet has changed the way it charges passengers for checked luggage. Up until now passengers were allowed one piece of checked luggage free of charge, with subsequent pieces costing £5 each. But from today (August 3), new bookings for travel after October 1 will attract a £2 charge for every piece of checked luggage, up to a maximum total weight of 20kg. Ryanair currently charges £5 per piece of checked luggage for a one-way flight, up to a maximum weight of 15kg (after which further charges apply).

For information visit easyjet.com, ryanair.com.