Apparently £30 buys a carbon offset for a long flight. That’s great! Aviation is a major cause of climate change, so a cheap way to negate the damage seems “just the ticket”… or is it?
Let’s put a pan of milk on the stove, make some cocoa, and think this through… During the flight, the aircraft burns so much fuel it emits 3.5 tonnes of CO₂ per economy passenger.
How’s the milk? Getting warm?
Some offsetting schemes plant trees to absorb CO₂. Others install renewable energy generation, such as solar panels. Energy schemes help people to not use fossil fuels – but don’t undo CO₂ emissions.
It might take years for schemes to offset 3.5 tonnes of CO₂ – that explains the cheapness. For example, how long will it take a tree to absorb 3.5 tonnes of CO₂? 14 years?
Don’t forget the milk - hot now?
So, to get emissions to net zero within 10 years, an offset that takes longer won’t help. The world, like your milk pan will have gotten too hot before we eventually turn the heat off. You did turn the heat off? It’s boiled over? (that’s what we want to avoid with the planet). With a carbon offset, it’s important to understand how long it will take to recapture that CO₂. Ideally, we’d recapture it whilst emitted.
Another problem: the atmosphere has twice the CO₂ it should have. Offsetting my flight is better than not – but insufficient. To restore our planet’s climate, we need to stop producing greenhouse gasses, and be cleaning up emissions from our pasts, parents and grandparents.
I started a monthly subscription with The Word Forest Organisation - a local charity. Our family will build up a bank of trees – eventually absorbing current, and some historic, emissions.
I appreciate being able to speak to Word Forest about their projects.
Could you DIY offset, perhaps plant trees or install solar panels? It remains vital to cut emissions – fly less, buy second hand, eat less meat.
Lastly, an easy idea to reduce your climate impact: cocoa with oat milk – creamy and delicious!