Published on April 8th, 2017 | by Chris Dragon


How To Offset Carbon Emissions From Flights, Driving, Energy Use, Etc.

April 8th, 2017 by  

In Part 3, we talked about ways to eliminate gasoline use and power all your transportation with solar-generated electricity. When it comes to airline travel, the only option is to avoid it or to offset it by paying to clean up the carbon emissions those jet engines are spewing out. I suggested buying carbon credits at Cool Effect, but I failed to mention just how little it costs to offset a long flight, so let me touch on that briefly.

In February, we had to fly from California (USA) to Winnipeg (Canada) to deal with some unavoidable family matters. The CO2 emitted by that flight can be calculated at Click the Flights tab, then enter the places you’re traveling:

I entered Trips: 2 because there were two passengers. The result of clicking Calculate & Add to Footprint is 1.7 metric tons of CO2. For trips that cover multiple locations, you can select One-way flight, enter one leg of the trip, then click Calculate & Add to Footprint. Each leg of the trip you add will be saved as a new entry at the bottom of the page. Notice there are also tabs to calculate the CO2 cost of cars, motorcycles, railways, etc. If you’re stuck waiting for your perfect EV, why not calculate your yearly driving impact and offset that as well?

Over on Cool Effect, click TAKE ACTION, then SUPPORT A PROJECT. Pick a project you like. Some are more or less expensive per unit of CO2 reduction. Many projects have side benefits, like protecting the flora/fauna in a forest or helping local villagers. If you want excruciating detail on a project, check out the links below DUE DILIGENCE DOCUMENTS.

You can also support all projects evenly, but in that case it doesn’t let you specify how much CO2 you want to offset — you can only pick a dollar amount of support (seems like $10 covers about 1 tonne of CO2).

On the details page of a particular project, click ONE-TIME PURCHASE, then click the ENTER YOUR OWN TONNES button:

You can’t enter fractional tonnes, so I entered 2. Considering the cost of the plane tickets was around $1100 total, $26.36 is a pretty tiny amount extra to offset the CO2 output, and this was the most expensive project in the list.

Some of you may be thinking it might be cheaper to offset all your CO2 emissions instead of upgrading your home to be 100% renewable. That might be a decent short-term option, but in the long term, there are not nearly enough inexpensive carbon offset projects in the world to account for the CO2 emitted by fossil fuels. So I hope you will join me in going 100% renewable and use offsets only as a short-term band-aid to emissions that can’t be avoided.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

I grew up programming on an Apple IIe and now run a software company. Despite a hatred of family camping trips, I've always had a deep concern for the creatures we share this planet with. In respect of those creatures, I spent a number of years working at an environmental non-profit, but these days I just try to live with sustainability and encourage others to do the same. I've even come to tolerate camping trips!

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