Treading lightly – or how I offset my 2018 CO2 emissions.

Unless you’ve taken up a flatshare with Bikini Bottom’s Patrick Star, you’ll have heard about CO2 trading. In the EU version of the thing, a cap is set on specific emissions, which is also constantly lowered year after year. If you find yourself above it, then you’ve got to buy credits – effectively supporting schemes to reduce emissions somewhere else.
However, you might be excused to think this could apply only to large corporations and not to the average Joe (I certainly didn’t); after all, how much greenhouse gases could realistically a person emit?
I always considered myself to be a fairly low-carbon human being, at least based on my average peer group made of wealthy Westerners. I don’t own a car, I commute by public transport or, as the Latins would say, pedibus calcantibus; my purchases of cheap cotton clothes are limited to the absolute necessary, which is to say that most of my T-shirts have witnessed at least two World Cups; and my consumption of red meat has steadily declined. Yes, there’s the flying but… come on, how much can that amount to?
Forty point something tons for 2018.
Forty point something tons, or 40.19 if you feel numerically inclined, is more or less equivalent to the weight of an average adult sperm whale. Or 7 African elephants. Or, if you’re struggling to figure them out, 350 LeBron Jameses.
To quote very freely from Led Zeppelin, that’s a lotta fartin’.
How did I get to that? Well, by entering the flights made last year in climatecare.org’s carbon calculator. Climatecare is an Oxford-based NGO that offers carbon offsetting services not just to large corporations but, as I found out, to the average Joe too. All that one needs to do is to plonk in the figures of one’s flying, including classes of travel, and voilà the cost is returned at a fee of £7.50 per ton, or $9.67.
My 40.19 tons have been the result of 42 flight and have costed me, to offset, £301 and change. For those of you who use dollars, that’s 388 pieces with George Washington printed on it, which Climatecare will invest in projects aimed at reducing the footprint of day-to-day activities in developing nations. What I’ve learnt is that the plushier the seat, the higher the emissions. For instance a London-Tashkent return flight in economy accounted for 1.4 tons of the bad stuff, whilst a London-JFK in Business – for a flight of similar duration – emitted 4.41 tons. First is even worse.
Most of these flights have been done for work; should I have paid to offset them? My answer, ultimately, is yes. It was my bum on those seats and, ultimately, I agreed to go there. Following orders didn’t work at Nuremberg and won’t cut it here too. And, at the end of the day, it’s a nice feeling, the one of being as carbon neutral as one possibly can.

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28 Responses to Treading lightly – or how I offset my 2018 CO2 emissions.

  1. Wow! 42 flights in a year? That’s certainly an answer of some sort. I understand most of them were orders. I try to figure out what kind of job you do but since you’re not telling much about it in your posts, I shan’t pry. I have flown less than ten times in my life, 7 to be exact (14, if you count returns): once to Los Angeles, twice to London and four times to various Greek islands. That’s maybe the weight of a small furry creature. So long, nutria.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dave Ply says:

    Tis true, I tend not to think too much about my carbon footprint. I suppose flights are my biggest impact as well, although I’m not in your league. Maybe a half dozen legs? (Albeit some are quite long.) I wonder how they figure a footprint is so much bigger in first class. Isn’t the same plane burning the same fuel? Guess they figure if you can afford to sit up front with the toffs you can afford to pay more for CO2 credits.

    Liked by 1 person

    • awtytravels says:

      Hi Dave,
      There’s an element of approximation, I think, in these calculations; for instance I know that a new A320neo consumes some 10-15% less than an older model, and that isn’t taken into account. As for the difference between business and economy, what I think they do is that they factor the occupancy per square meter; whereas in one m2 of cabin you could have, say, 3 economy seats, only one business class seat would fit, so the CO2 emissions of that square meter are divided by 1 rather than by 3.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. lexklein says:

    This is great! I want to calculate this for myself and pay my share, but first I have to fly back home from the current trip … yikes … I fear my numbers may be quite high!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. richandalice says:

    That does it. You’re gonna have to take the Kon Tiki approach to travel.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bama says:

    I have a friend who works at an organization that focuses on helping companies to offset their carbon footprints — it’s so cool to hear from him how the scheme works. As for myself, despite the fact that I walk home, I feel that I still have a lot of homework to do when it comes to this matter. I try to shift to a better lifestyle — only recently my apartment provides a pickup service for non-organic waste to be recycled, and I also started to learn about gardening… well, keeping plants alive to be precise. It’s so cool what you’ve done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • awtytravels says:

      Good to see Jakarta getting onto the recycling bandwagon, Bama. The sooner countries like India, Indonesia, China, Brazil, Vietnam and so on embrace environmental awareness, the better. Of course we’ve got ourselves to blame for spreading out an idea of development where everyone has a car…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. J.D. Riso says:

    I dont pay to offset anything. I’m an asshole. 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lignum Draco says:

    The answer is always 42. 🙂
    It can be hard to appreciate and conceptualise the effect our normal lives have on the environment. This is eye-opening.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. equinoxio21 says:

    So that’s about a ton a flight? Darn. I must have accumulated a few tons over the years. Though never to the extent of 42 flights a year! That’s almost one a week. Compliments.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. equinoxio21 says:

    Oops. Maybe I shouldn’t compliment on carbon production. How very un-PC of me…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m completely with you on the need to leave a light footprint. Its just that I don’t understand the difference in carbon emission between business and economy. Would the price of an airplane carrying a couple of extra drinks be a lot of extra CO2? Or is it the extra baggage? I’m sure that if you carry less baggage then you are causing less carbon emission, no matter which class you travel by. Also, older planes emit more CO2 than new ones, and that’s not something we can control. So overall, less travel, and light travel is probably better. Also mitigation, of course.

    Liked by 1 person

    • awtytravels says:

      Hey there! There’s a level of approximation in the way they calculate the emissions, so the airplane equipment can, in a sense, be discounted. As for the difference between Business and Economy, my thinking is that they want to reflect the increased weight of a Business seat (I know that a modern one can weight as much as two rows of Economy) and the amount of space occupied by just one seat rather than 2-3 seats of Economy. I agree, less travel is better but… that’s less fun! 🙂

      Like

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