How to compensate for flight emissions + eco-friendly tips to flying!

Okay, so you are gonna fly! But you feel bad about it because you know the environmental consequences of flying! We all know that the best thing to do would be to NOT fly. But now that you have decided to fly anyway – this is the things you should consider and do to feel better about your choice and to compensate for the fact that you ARE flying. 

As you know, Ras and I want to inspire travellers to choose a more eco-friendly road. Therefore we made a pact, that we max. fly once a year. I haven’t flown once since we made this pact, but now I am enrolled at a yoga teacher education in Bali, which I have dreamed about doing for as long as I can remember. So I am flying to Bali. And even though I have reduced my personal emissions dramatically since this pact, I still can’t seem to shake the guilt of this flight. So now, for your sake and for my own sake, I am gonna research how we can fly in the most eco-friendly way possible. Okay, let’s dig in!

First of all, we need to talk about the complications with flight emission compensation

Compensating for your flights’ emissions aren’t the same as offsetting the emissions. This is very important. Once the emissions from your flight are released into the atmosphere, they will stay forever. The damage is done! However, what compensation can do, is fx to plant the number of trees that will use the carbon dioxide you released into the atmosphere in their photosynthesis. There are many different projects to support, but let’s just use the example of the trees(Source: 1).

There is a but: the trees are only able to use all of your carbon dioxide emissions in like 30 years. This is because the trees have to be fully grown to breathe in that much carbon dioxide and use it in their photosynthesis. And when the tree dies one day of whatever reason: naturally or because of production use, the carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere once again. Your emissions will, therefore, stay in our atmosphere no matter what(Source: 1). I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear. The future looks dark kids. BUT compensating for your emissions are STILL better than doing nothing.

Furthermore, it is difficult to calculate the actual amount of emissions that a project will compensate for(Source: 1). Fx how will we know the exact amount of carbon dioxide the trees you planted will use in their photosynthesis?

Another thing you need to be aware of is, that a lot of online websites will try to trick you to offset your flight emissions through their services, but in reality, they don’t offset anything – they just take your money. Furthermore, a lot of airline companies offer their own compensation service. Often this service is low in costs because, and without clear documentation on where your money is actually going, because the airline companies don’t want you to be freaked out by the high cost, or freaked out by the huge level of documentation(Source: 1). In other words, they want to make it more convenient for you to buy the compensation service with them. 

I know this compensation thing sounds tricky and complicated, but that’s why I’m here to tell you how it is done!

So let’s start over, and go step by step! These are the things you can do to travel more eco-friendly when you ARE flying.

  1. Before you book your flight ticket the first thing you can do is to choose the most energy-efficient airline company. Atmosfair.de has researched all airline companies, and they have made a complete index list of how energy efficient your airline company is.
  2. Book direct flights! Aircrafts use the most fuel when they are taking off and landing. If you can limit the amount of takeoff and landings at layovers, your travel will be more emission friendly(Source: 1). 
  3. Always choose economy class and travel light! The less space you take on the plane, the fewer emissions you will pollute, since there will be able to be more people on the flight, and therefor the plane will be more energy efficient. If your suitcase weighs less, the plane will need less energy to carry it(Source: 1). 
  4. Find the right project to compensate for your flight. To do that you should look for transparent documentation about what project your money is supporting. You should look for certificates like the Verified Carbon Standard, the Gold Standard, VER or CDM, and you should google what these certificates stand for, so you know what you are founding! Then you should note whether you are supporting a specific project, or the general organization, who is in charge of administrating where your money is going.

My choice of compensation service and the price I payed

For my flight to Bali I am choosing to compensate my flight through Atmosfair.de, since they are an independent organization (not an airline company), they have the most transparent documentation I have been able to find, they are quality guaranteed by the German environmental authorities, their projects have many different certifications of high standards, and they calculate with much higher amounts of emissions than many other online offset services(Source: 1), and I would rather pay a little bit too much, than not enough. 

I ended up paying 89 euros through Atmosfair.de for a roundtrip from Denmark to Bali. I feel like this is a very small price to pay, to compensate and do a little good when I have decided to fly. Maybe we should all make compensation a natural part of buying plane tickets in the future! Like you can’t do one without the other. 

I hope this blog post is going to help you a little bit to figure out the compensation game and to inspire you on how to be a little more eco-friendly when you have chosen to fly. Let us know if you liked this kind of post or if you have any questions!

The majority of facts in this blog post origins from Source 1, which is a research rapport from 2019 made by Concito, who is a Green Danish Think Tank. You can find the whole rapport here.

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