Sunday, October 01, 2006


Despite the jet lag, I planted some trees!

I have decided to offset the carbon emissions from my trip to the USA. Given that it involved a round trip to San Francisco, and then a 3,000 mile drive in a sports car, I thought it would be wise to try and balance out the CO2 emissions. I found a great site, and did just that!

I’m not going to say that it’s “ethical” to offset CO2. I don’t think that there are many ethical absolutes (if any at all), and who am I to say what they are? Where CO2 is concerned, my ethics are mine, and your’s are your’s. But I felt that I should, so I did. And now I have the chance to say how and why I did it, so maybe you might consider doing the same if you think it’s wise.

I’m no environmental scientist or climatologist, but I have read widely about climate change and I think that, where possible, I should try and minimize my carbon footprint. And this is a remarkably easy way to do it. The site I used explains it all and allows me to do it easily and quickly (the whole thing took about 10 minutes).

And it’s cheap too! For a small sum, trees are planted in forests which, over their lifetime, will offset the CO2 I generated on my trip. You can read all about it here, as well as finding out more about CO2 emissions and off-setting in general.

Here’s how my holiday panned out in terms of costs:

Manchester – Chicago return - £13
Chicago – San Francisco return - £9
3,000 miles in a Chrysler Crossfire (I didn’t know the engine size, so I guessed at “large” since the car was ridiculous) - £10

Total - £32 – which pays to offset the CO2 for my whole trip.

I don’t think this is a huge sum at all – it equates to about 5% of the cost of the tickets and car hire, or about the cost of a good meal. Actually, it’s about the same amount as I spent on tat from duty free.

And it’s even cheaper for other trips. I know that lots of people are concerned about the CO2 impact of low-cost flights. Well, I plucked a random Easyjet route from memory (Liverpool – Malaga) and found that this can be offset for £9 return! Not bad at all. And even very long flights aren’t very expensive. Manchester – Sydney is only £34 return.

As I mentioned, this is a personal choice. I’m not saying everyone should do it, nor am I saying that I’m any better for doing it that someone who doesn’t. But I do think that opportunities like this give people the chance to consider steps that they can take to reduce their carbon footprint and neutralize the effects that they have on the world in terms of CO2. The site I used helps people to CO2-balance things far more common than air travel (domestic heating, for instance).

I’m not against air travel or big cars. I think both are fantastic. I can’t see the world without air travel, and I can’t go “wow” at a passing Bentley without big cars.

Motor manufacture and usage, together with the aerospace industry and air transport, are absolutely crucial to the UK and the world. The reason I drive a Fiat Punto rather than a BMW X5 isn’t because trees shrivel when the BMW drives past. It’s because I can’t afford an X5. I suspect that anyone who claims differently about themselves may well be lying!

But if I could afford to drive a big 4x4, I could also afford to pay a little more to offset the increased emissions. And I for one would do just that. That’s why I am all for the Liberal Democrat policies on green taxation – one of which is to charge higher polluting cars more to use the roads.

I’d also love to see websites, travel companies and airlines give customers the option to offset their carbon emissions at the time of purchase of travel tickets. I for one would gladly pay. I think the reason people might not pay at the moment is because it’s not very easy to find out about it, or how to do it. And people may think that it’s very expensive. The idea could equally be applied to other things like domestic bills, cars, insurance premiums, and lots of other things. I know that this kind of thing exists already. For instance, Climatesure offer insurance products where a % of the premium is used to offset. And there are some others too.

If it was made easier to do, people would see that it isn’t very expensive at all! And I think they’d do it. After all, I just did!


Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?