Carbon offset

For the last five years or so, each time that I traveled by plane I tried to offset the carbon emissions I was “responsible” of by sponsoring projects by the German company Atmosfair. The idea is that you offset your carbon emissions by helping a project aiming at reducing carbon emissions elsewhere, usually in a developing country.

Since I’m thinking of flying this year, I did a search on Google today about the carbon offset programs. I came upon two articles in the Guardian that seriously put in question the efficiency of these programs.

– The inconvenient truth about the carbon offset industry.

– UK carbon offset schemes ‘failing to reduce emissions’

The starting point of the second article is a Friends of the Earth 30 page study that you can download here.

The five central arguments against offsetting are that it:

1. counts action in developing countries as part of the cuts promised in developed countries, although the science is clear that action is needed in both developed and developing countries.

2. cannot guarantee the same cuts as would have happened without offsetting.

3. is causing major delays to urgently needed economic transformations in developed countries.

4. does not ensure positive sustainable development in, or appropriate financial transfers to, developing countries.

5. is profoundly unjust, fundamentally flawed and cannot be reformed.

It seems then that I can now forget my nice “little plan” to clear my conscience about the effects of flying and that if I want to be coherent with my beliefs I should simply stop flying.

On the other hand, as an air traffic controller I can everyday reduce planes related emissions by giving shortcuts, higher cruising levels or continuous descents to the traffic I handle even if it increases my workload. Sometimes it just takes a phone call to an adjacent control center to get a significant shortcut and it “kills” me that some (most?) of my colleagues don’t even bother trying to get it.

In a way, a 50km shortcut given to a 150+ passengers aircraft – like the one I gave yesterday and today to Ryanair flights – “buys” me a 7,500km journey 🙂


This entry was posted in Ecology, Unfuck the planet. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Carbon offset

  1. micki says:

    I’m glad I have such an environmentally conscience brother-in-law…it helps me stay focused on green issues too. Just curious about your plans…flying to the states?

  2. francoish says:

    Well, I always think about visiting you all. I also really would like to visit NY one day…

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