Climate change campaigning by activists appears to be paying off, at least to some small degree.
Led by the efforts of high-profile figures like Greta Thunberg and filmmaker-naturalist David Attenborough, an increasing number of flyers are becoming pollution conscious and are acting on their concerns by purchasing carbon offsets to mitigate the impacts of flying.
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According to a new report from Bloomberg, sales of carbon offsets are skyrocketing. In particular, Myclimate, a Swiss nonprofit that works with Deutsche Lufthansa AG, has seen a five-fold uptick in credits in a year.
Meanwhile, at Rynair, Europe’s largest discount carrier the level of customers purchasing voluntary offsets has doubled over about 18 months (this at an airline whose CEO has scoffed at the notion of climate change calling it “complete and utter rubbish.”)
Increasing sales of carbon offsets may have been triggered by the harsh summer season in Europe, says Bloomberg.
The continent has seen rivers dry, temperature records broken and sporting events canceled all while scientists point the finger at manmade global warming.
At the same time, there’s an anti-flying movement slowly emerging around the globe, helped along by 16-year-old Thunberg, who recently announced that she will cross the Atlantic by sailboat, rather than flying, in order to take part in a United Nations climate summit in New York City.
For those not familiar, a carbon offset is a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions designed to compensate for emissions made somewhere else.
Airline passengers can purchase offsets through a variety of websites and companies that use the money to fund low-carbon or clean energy projects such as planting trees, installing solar panels or handing out cleaner cooking stoves.
To make the process even easier, some airlines have even begun offering offsets directly when you buy your ticket.
Prices for the offsets vary from about 10 cents per ton of carbon dioxide to more than $70, depending on the offset provider and the project being funded, Bloomberg reported.
Atmosfair, a German nonprofit, offers offsetting for a one-way flight from London to New York at a cost of $40 to $93 depending on the airline.
Some of the other companies selling carbon offsets include Terrapass and Cool Effect.
Global voluntary offsetting transactions, which include at least some flight credits, reached a value of about $200 million a year, according to a first-quarter 2018 survey by Forest Trends that was reported by Bloomberg.
But before climate change activists get too excited, the Bloomberg report also noted that while public demand for offsets is growing, airline uptake from offsetting remains below two percent on average. At Ryanair, for instance, fewer than three percent of customers are buying credits.
These figures, however, do not include third-party carbon offset providers.
Meanwhile, others in the travel industry are calling on airlines and policymakers to do more about the environmental impact of flying.
Earlier this year, for instance, Responsible Travel issued a call for action on aviation emissions. The company released a manifesto on aviation and climate change that called the aviation industry one of the fastest-growing contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and challenged governments around the world to take actions to reduce demand for flying through taxation and other measures.
“As the world focuses in on reducing carbon emissions aviation is getting a free ride,” Justin Francis, CEO Responsible Travel, told TravelPulse at the time. “This has to stop if we are to keep global warming below 1.5 percent.”