I recently went back to the UAE and Iran to visit family and friends. It was a great trip. My son got to hang out with his ‘best friend Jack’. These two munchkins were inseparable and I know that my son found it difficult being separated from Jack. When they saw each other again, it was not like they had been separated for over a year.
While the trip was relaxing, I did wander about my carbon emissions from the flights.In the past I had purchased carbon credits to ‘neutralise’ my emissions.
What are carbon credits?
As part of global efforts to address the greenhouse effect or climate change, a mechanism has been developed called the Clean Development Mechanism with the aim of trading carbon between countries. The way it works is that a country is given an amount of carbon that they are allowed to emit (their quota). The Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protcol allows developed (Annex 1) countries to exceed their CO2 quota by investing in projects that help the developing countries and also result in a reduction in carbon emissions.
So how does this relate to my holiday?
As Carbon dioxide emissions are released through the aviation sector (the aviation industry is said to account for 1.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions ), reductions are important. Some airlines provide the opportunity for travellers to offset their carbon emissions by purchasing carbon credits (Eg Japanese Airlines, Virgin, Scandanavian Airlines), while other don’t.
I flew with Etihad who have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Masdar (big carbon ‘neutral’ project in the UAE. For more information on Masdar, go to: http://www.masdar.ae ). However I had decided to offset the emissions from my travel with my family. Using an on-line calculator I have estimated that for my return flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi and from Dubai to Esfahan that we emitted 5.5 tonnes of CO2.! (to calculate your carbon emissions, go to: http://www.carbonneutral.com.au/carbon-calculator.html )
Who offers carbon offsets?
There are a range of companies that offer certified carbon offsets and that is the key word ‘certified’. It’s important to buy from a trusted company with third party independent verification of their projects and their claims.
There are various ways that carbon offsets are ‘produced’:
• Renewable energy projects;
• Energy efficiency projects;
• Reforestation; and
• Preservation of forests (that is paying to prevent forestry).
As an individual, there may be different criteria that you have personally for how you want your money invested. For me I am interested in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Of the renewable energy options I prefer solar and wind and do not want to support hydro projects.
For this trip, after much much research, I have selected a project on improved cooking methods in South Africa from Fair Climate Fund (http://www.fairclimatefund.nl/en/projecten/). This project provides stoves to families which they can use for their cooking. It improves their health and reduces their carbon emissions as compared the stoves they previously used. By purchasing to offset 6 tonnes of CO2 from my trip I can now say that I travelled neutrally and to top it off, it didn’t really cost too much at all (about $AUD70)!
After navigating the world web for hours, I have come to realize that it is quite hard to find the information that may help others make a similar decision. The Australian websites seemed to be very much geared towards corporate companies, rather than individuals. The language was technical and the links not intuitive.
Overall, it was quite hard. The website that I found the least cumbersome was this:
Another source of information was this website, however many of the websites I searched did not have the offsets ready to purchase: http://www.carbonoffsetguide.com.au/providers/Australasian+Carbon+Credits Provides a guide on companies offering carbon offsets