As Of 2020, Let’s Carbon Offset Our Travels.

Fun Fact: Did you know that if aviation was a country, it would be the sixth largest in the world between Japan and Germany? Insane, right? We thought so, too.

Photo by Emre Kuzu

As travel becomes more accessible to people around the globe, travelers have an obligation to try and preserve the planet for generations of travelers to come.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), aviation accounts for approximately 2 per cent of global CO2 emissions produced by human activity. International aviation is responsible for approximately 1.3 per cent of global CO2 emissions. As a growing sector with passenger number to double to 8.2 billion in 2037, Aviation could consume a quarter of the global carbon budget for limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C by 2050. Airlines around the world have begun to monitor their CO2 emissions as part of a UN climate deal, the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation ( CORSIA scheme). It is a market-based mechanism being developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Airlines will have to buy emissions reduction offsets from other sectors to compensate for any increase in their own emissions. Alternatively, they can use lower carbon “Corsia eligible fuels”.

The CORSIA will be implemented in three phases, starting with participation of States in the CORSIA offsetting on a voluntary basis (pilot phase and first phase), followed by participation of all States except the States exempted from offsetting requirements, as follows:

  • Pilot phase: from 2021 to 2023;
  • First phase: from 2024 to 2026; and
  • Second phase: from 2027 to 2035. 

What can you do in the meantime as a responsible and conscious traveler?

  • Reduce the frequency of air travel if possible and opt for less polluting options. Traveling by bus and train is almost always a carbon bargain, emitting far fewer greenhouse gases.
  • Avoid air travel
  • If air travel is unavoidable (because your work requires you to travel by air, your loved ones live far away from you or you are simply travelling for the fun of it, which is okay) ensure that carbon offsets are purchased to compensate for the carbon emissions related to that form of travel. 

How can you purchase offsets?

To compensate for the heavy carbon footprint caused by flying or other travel activities, you can purchase carbon offsets equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide you are responsible for. You can do this by:

  • Travelling with an environmentally responsible tour operator that offsets trip emissions on the behalf of travelers
  • Opt to use the carbon offsetting programs offered by many airlines
  • Offset your carbon independently. In order to do so, calculate your carbon footprint and purchase offsets. You can find your carbon footprint by entering your city of origin and destination on the ICAO website. If you live in Canada, you can also use Offsetters to calculate your carbon footprint and buy offsets from them. There are many free tools online so do your research.

Be careful though! Carbon offsetting is not an excuse to pollute and travel guilt-free.

Carbon footprint of a passenger flying from Montreal (Quebec) to Quebec city (Quebec)
Carbon footprint of a passenger flying from Montreal (Quebec) to Quebec city (Quebec)

When you purchase carbon offsets, you’re contributing to carbon reducing projects that capture and store existing CO2 from the atmosphere or prevent new emissions from happening. Projects vary from the establishment of a wind farm to the planting of trees that will help to absorb and store carbon. Some projects go beyond emission reduction by creating opportunities for communities to better their livelihoods.

Have you ever purchased carbon offsets to compensate for your travel emissions? if not, will you consider doing it? Tell us in the comments!

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