Guide to Carbon Offsetting

A DIY guide to calculate, price, and offset carbon emissions from flying...

A Teaspoons of Change Guide Towards Carbon Offsetting Flights

Transport accounts for around 14% of all emissions in the world and at a personal level they are likely much higher, particularly for socially and enviro conscious minds working on global solutions who do a lot of flying (like me).

In an age of cheap flights, many flights (beyond personal emissions) occur under the watch of schools, businesses, government and other institutions. These entities are responsible for a significant proportion of CO² emissions as organisations and collectives. So what can we do about it?

Luckily there are a lot of positive examples for businesses and people offsetting their carbon emissions. Airlines themselves are now getting more realistic in their carbon offset programs beyond the small amounts of token gestures in the past. Air New Zealand prices its carbon at around $20USD per tonne leading to realistic and effective support for carbon emissions.

There a few simple steps to carbon offsetting flights:

1. Calculate CO² emissions with a carbon calculator – such as http://www.offsetters.ca/ 

2. Price your emissions and contribution (you can use this spreadsheet to calculate) – a recommendation is for $20-$30USD per tonne to offset emissions 

3. Work out the benefactor and recipient of carbon offset either formally with carbon credits, or informally, supporting planting trees, carbon sequestering, environmental advocacy, renewable technologies, etc.

4. Incorporate carbon offset contribution into trips – include how it is calculated, why it is important, where it will be used and the positive impacts it contributes

Here are some typical carbon offsetting contributions for flights from Bangkok:

Return Flights Tonnes of CO² Carbon Contribution $20 / Tonne Carbon Contribution $30 / Tonne
Bangkok – Singapore 0.53 $10.60 $15.90
Bangkok – Beijing  1.23 $24.60 $36.90
Bangkok – Dubai 1.59 $31.80 $47.70
Bangkok – Melbourne 2.41 $28.20 $72.30
Bangkok – London 3.11 $62.20 $93.30
Bangkok – Vancouver 3.85 $77.00 $115.50
Bangkok – New York 4.54 $90.80 $136.20

It is always better to fly less or choose trains and busses where possible but if we feel we have to fly, we can (and should) make significant contributions to positive environmental impacts while minimising the harm of emissions from flights. 

Turn this guide into a policy and use it as a model with your organisation or institute adding to our collective consciousness for flying.

Here is a link to a simple spreadsheet you can download to input flights and CO² emissions (after calculating flights using Offsetters.ca) and convert to a contribution amount per flight.