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As some of you may have noticed, we here at All World Travel have started to post more information on how to travel green, what the future of sustainable travel might look like, and highlighting companies that are working towards these goals. Well in this blog, we want to talk about carbon offsetting. Carbon offsetting is “the action or process of compensating for carbon dioxide emissions arising from industrial or other human activity, by participating in schemes designed to make equivalent reductions of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”  To do so, we are going to do four things:
1. Describe different types of carbon offsetting,
2. How to calculate travel and everyday life carbon impact, with some examples,
3. Companies that are working on carbon offsetting,
4. And finally answer the question: should we carbon offset?
So, let us begin. First, we ask “what are the different types of carbon offsetting that are available?” Well, there are 9 examples that we will share here  that are further broken down into two different types, nature-based solutions, and non-nature-based solutions. Nature-based solutions include reforestation and afforestation where trees are planted where trees either previously were, or where there were not previously trees. Next, there is forest conservation which works to protect potentially vulnerable forested areas. Third, are blue carbon solutions that focus on marine and coastal areas of rehabilitation or conservation. Fourth, there is regenerative agriculture which uses soil-enhancing practices to create carbon sinks on agricultural land. Fifth, we have grassland management, which like the methods above seeks to protect and rehabilitate grasslands. Now, to move on to the non-nature-based solutions, of which there are four. First, there is renewable energy, which we know are things like hydropower, solar, and wind power. Second, is the reduction of wood fire use in rural areas around the world by finding ways to give electric devices to houses in need. Third, is waste management which works to capture methane and convert it into a clean energy source. And, finally, there are carbon removal projects, which remove carbon from the air and store it elsewhere or use it in a more effective manner. This last method is very expensive.
Now that we know the different types of carbon offsetting methods that exist, let us look at how we can calculate our carbon offsetting. First off, there are many ways in which you can pay to carbon offset your trips. This is usually done by donating to organizations that manage carbon offset projects. For example, at Colorado College, you can see your carbon footprint flying from one place to another. At the time of writing, we looked at what a carbon offset might look like for a roundtrip flight from Albuquerque to Paris and back. The calculator used at Colorado College states that that flight would generate 4.99 metric tons of CO2e, which is the same as 635,770 phones being charged at the same time. And, the cost to offset this trip is $24.93. Which, as we stated before, can be donated to a number of different organizations that work on carbon offset projects. To get a better idea of carbon footprints you can visit conservation.org where you can calculate the carbon footprint of everyday life in the household and transportation, as well as in travel.
As well, there are many airline companies that already take part in carbon offsetting from the moment you book a flight with them. A few of them and their respective organizations are Air France, Aer Lingus, Air New Zealand, American, Airlines, British Airlines, and many more. These companies partner with organizations that plant trees, offer gas stoves in place of wood burning stoves, restoring peatlands, and working with tech companies that advise for the best future innovations in carbon offsetting. Some of these organizations are A Tree for You which works with Air France, Pure Leapfrog which works with Aer Lingus, the Cool Effect with American Airlines, CHOOOSE with British Airways, and Trees that Count with Air New Zealand.
Now, finally the question: should we carbon offset at all? Some people do make the good criticism that perhaps these companies do not put all their efforts into actually changing anything. Well, we hope these companies are not that cynical, but at the end of the day, we do need to know how to approach how we can best carbon offset. According to Marisa de Belloy, CEO of Cool Effect (mentioned above with American Airlines) ““[T]he real difference is when you buy an offset, you are verifiably reducing carbon emissions… When you donate to a big environmental nonprofit, you don’t know exactly what the impact has been.”” And further stating that one purchase ““is equal to one [metric] ton of carbon emissions that were not emitted. The term offset just means you’re using that ton to offset a ton you have put into the atmosphere.””
So, we can see that there is a tangible benefit to purchasing some carbon offset and carbon capture organizations, however, the smart thing to do is some basic research into the companies and organizations of which you will be using and spending money. According to the National Geographic and Morning Consult poll “Thirty-eight percent of Americans surveyed think it would be a fine idea, with the percentage rising to 48 percent among millennials.” So, we can see that the trend to carbon offset will likely not go away, but the best thing to do is some basic research and spend your money with companies and organizations that have proven to be using the best practices.
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