It is not news that addressing our CO2 emissions is a must in our daily basis, and there are some very easy methods to do. But when it comes to traveling, specially abroad or overseas it becomes a much bigger issue, that we sometimes overlook. According to the latest report of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), it is forecasted that by 2030, the tourism industry will produce 25% percent more CO2 emissions than it did by 2016. It will represent 5,2% of all man-made emissions. That is a big number to fight against. But, we, as tourist can get involved in practices and schemes that help reduce it, by offsetting our carbon footprint.
Carbon offsetting, is any activity that compensates for the emission of carbon dioxide, or other greenhouse gases, by providing for an emission reduction elsewhere. There are many, and diverse methods and schemes to offset your carbon footprint when you travel. Offsetting programs vary in their nature: from tree planting, reforestation initiatives, to projects that invest in renewable energies.
In order to provide for reductions, you buy credits for the amount of CO2 that your travel will produce. Usually, one tonne of carbon equals one credit. Even though, 1% of the travelers purchase voluntarily reductions according to the International Air Transport Association, it is a number that has been growing steady for the last years. 2018 has marked a record-high of 42,8 tonnes retired by this kind of programs, reported Forest Trend, a conservation finance company that tracks carbon offset projects based in New York.
If you are traveling, specially by plane, this kind of programs are highly important since the travel really adds to your carbon footprint- mileage. But before you start investing in one program or thinking about choosing your favorite, there are some things you have to do:
1- Try to lessen your carbon footprint: If it’s possible, choose not to travel by plane, instead use trains or other transport methods.
2- Calculate your carbon footprint: In one earlier article, we have listed all the different apps you can use to measure your carbon footprint in your daily life. This can be useful while you are on the destination. But, if you are indeed using a plane, then you need to calculate the CO2 emissions from the flight, and there are some specialized calculators, where you put the travel details, so you know exactly the credits you will need to obtain in order to offset your CO2 emissions. There are many options, but this one might be useful.
3- Choose your program: Now that you know your carbon footprint, you can decide on one of the many carbon offset initiatives. Be sure to pick a quality and certified reduction program. Take into consideration, that often, the carbon emission programs and prices vary according to the location they are based.
As we mentioned there is a world of possibilities at the moment of picking a carbon offsetting program. Our best advice? Pick the one that speaks to your heart. Nonetheless, it is important that you check and make a contribution for a program that is certified. Organizations such as Gold Standard and Green-e are a good starting point if you want to take a look into where you can contribute.
Before traveling, you can also check if the country of destination has some kind of Carbon Offsetting initiative. For example, take the case of Costa Rica: they have implemented the “Pura Vida Pledge”, which is a carbon offsetting scheme proposed by the Costa Rican government. The pledge seeks voluntary donations and contribution from travelers, that will be used to fund environmental projects in the country.
Measuring your carbon emissions, and choosing an appropriate Carbon Offsetting program is as important as taking the steps beforehand and ensuring the minimum CO2 emissions possible. Now that you know, check all the variety of options there are to make your future travel more responsible and sustainable.
+ Words: Leila Salinas, Luxiders Magazine
Journalist | Berlin-based
Connect with her on LinkedIn or Instagram (@leisalinas)