More Airlines Are Offering Carbon Offsets, But Is It A Real Solution?

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As pressure mounts on the aviation industry to create more sustainable ways to do business, EasyJet has become the latest airline to pledge to fly carbon neutral. As concerns rise within the industry that people will stop flying in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint, a host of airlines including British Airlines, Air Canada, and Air New Zealand, are now offering carbon offsets as a way to combat the emissions their domestic flights are creating.

Image source: International Council on Clean Transportation

However, the aviation industry continues to release, on a yearly basis, hundreds of millions of carbon into the atmosphere. As demand for air travel intensifies among developed countries, airlines are in fact increasing the number of flights they offer per year. According to the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), “the global carbon emissions from commercial flights are rising up to 70% faster than predicted.”

Many experts who regard carbon offsetting with skepticism question the real impact of this solution.  They “fear that carbon offsetting may do more harm than good by offering airlines a licence to keep polluting and encouraging travellers to continue to choose the most polluting option.” It is, also, arguable as to whether the projects assigned to nullify the damage caused by air travel in fact have the required necessary results, with many projects falling short of their goals.

However, there is one airline keen on making a difference. American Airlines, in lieu of offering an offset scheme for its customers, has invested in new fuel efficient airplanes and is taking significant steps to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

While some of the current airlines are criticized for offering carbon offsetting without any further thought, it appears that Easy Jet is taking its mission of a greener solution more seriously. According to its press release, carbon offsetting is not the only avenue it is pursuing.. “We’ll continue to find other ways to reduce carbon emissions such as taxiing on one engine or removing weight from our aircraft, both of which use less fuel. We have championed the development of electric technology and will continue to do so in order to ensure that flying remains a sustainable option for us all in the future.”

With ICCT believing that airline emissions may triple by 2050 if not brought under control, the next few years will be a significant time for the aviation industry to enact real change.

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Ciara Gillan

Ciara Gillan is a writer, audio producer and a lover of crime stories. She writes about the environment and is currently figuring out how long it would take her to get from Berlin to Dublin 'Greta Thunberg' style. You can find her on Twitter, or find her audio work here.

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