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Air travellers: What you can do to help the environment

The Canadian federal election and the revelation that the Liberal party is flying two airplanes throughout their campaign got me thinking—with air travel putting out significant carbon, is there anything we can do to help the environment?

It’s a multipronged answer—yes and yes. You can minimize travel to only fly when you need to, but for many, that’s not an option. I’ve often seen the carbon offset purchase option when booking a ticket, but does it really work, and where does the money go? This is the longer answer.

Carbon offsetting is the process of countering the emissions released through air travel by spending in projects that reduce carbon emissions and accelerate the growth of alternative energy sources that are less harmful to the environment. Many, however, see this as just a way to justify wasteful energy output. Investing in solutions, however, can be seen as doing something.

In Canada, the country’s largest carrier, Air Canada, partners with Less Emissions (a Bullfrog Power company) to offer passengers an option to purchase carbon offsets. Through the calculator here, passengers can estimate the emissions and purchase the appropriate offset.

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Less says money will be used in two ways:

Less Emissions offers:

  • Gold Standard-Certified International Offsets: Derived from international projects meeting the Gold Standard Foundation’s sustainable development criteria, as well as the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism protocols. These offsets are endorsed by leading environmental groups, including WWF International.
  • VER+ Certified VER+ Standard-Certified Canadian Offsets: Sourced from projects that have achieved certification under the VER+ Standard, a globally recognized standard for voluntary GHG emission reductions projects.

WestJet works with Carbonzero, a similar organization with the same calculator so passengers can purchase carbon offset credits.

Offsetting isn’t a solution to climate change, but is a step in the right direction as passengers become more aware of the carbon emissions through air travel.

Winston is currently a freelance technology and travel broadcast journalist, consultant, and is the creator and founder of Master Travellr—Canada’s destination for travel news, guides, and budget recommendations.

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