As you may be aware air travel releases gases that contribute to global warming, such as carbon dioxide. In fact, your flight will almost certainly be the largest environment impact of your holiday.

Offset your carbon emissions

Environmental organisation, Climate Care, is a service that helps you repair the damage that flying does to the climate. It does this by ‘offsetting' the greenhouse gas emissions, such as CO2, from your activities by reducing an equivalent amount of CO2 on your behalf. These reductions are made through a range of projects in

Energy efficiency – these reduce the amount of fuel needed
Renewable energy – these replace non-renewable fuel such as coal
Forest restoration – these absorb CO2 from the atmosphere as the trees grow

Calculate and offset your carbon emissions

To calculate the carbon emissions from your flight and find out how much it will cost to offset this, use the online calculator in the bottom left corner of this page, or click here. If you then choose to offset you can click through to Climate Care's site and do the transaction online.

Examples of Climate Care projects

Climate Care funds a variety of projects including:

Efficient stoves in Honduras

Climate Care is working in Honduras to make fuel efficient cooking stoves available in some of the poorest communities. This supports conservation by reducing the wood needed for cooking. It also benefits the householders by removing smoke from the kitchen and dramatically cutting the health risk from wood smoke. Each stove reduces carbon dioxide emissions by around 1.5 tonnes per year, compared to an open fire. The project is expected to save 7,000 tonnes of CO2.

Renewable power for schools in India

Climate care is funding a project to introduce school stoves that run off a new renewable fuel source, replacing stoves that use the fossil fuel LPG. Crop waste is being used to make biomass briquettes for the stoves, providing an extra income to farmers. For the schools this is good news because the new renewable fuel is cheaper. The stove has also proved popular with pupils, who prefer the taste of food! This project is expected to save 11,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Restoring rainforests in Uganda

Climate Care is funding part of a forest restoration programme in the Kibale National Park in Uganda. The project aims to re-create a rainforest canopy by planting and managing 30 species of local trees. The area is an important wildlife habitat – with one of the highest concentrations of primate species in the world – and the project provides employment for local communities. Each hectare of rainforest that is restored is expected to absorb 400 tonnes of CO2.

FAQs: Air travel and climate change

When I fly, am I contributing to climate change?

Yes. Aircraft operations generate greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), and other effects in the atmosphere linked to water vapour, ozone generation, methane reduction and cirrus cloud formation.

What's the overall effect of air travel on the climate?

The overall effect of air travel on the climate is greater than the CO2 that comes from burning aviation fuel because the emissions are released high in the atmosphere. The calculations used by Climate Care take account of this – for more information see the report on calculating emissions from air travel on Climate Care's website.

Am I offsetting emissions from the whole plane?

No. You are paying for your seat. Emissions per person are estimated by dividing the total fuel used on a journey by the number of seats on a plane.

I pay departure tax, so why should I pay Climate Care?

Air Passenger Duty is a passenger tax levied by the Government on all departures from the UK and generates almost £1 billion annually. However, the money isn't spent directly on mitigating the greenhouse gas emissions from your flight, whereas your payment to Climate Care is.

FAQs: Offsetting

What is offsetting?

When you buy a carbon offset, your money is used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions on your behalf. The emissions are reduced through projects that prevent the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, or absorb it through reforestation. The reduction made is the same amount as your flight releases.

How do Climate Care's projects ‘offset' the CO2 emitted?

Climate Care's projects avoid, reduce or absorb greenhouse gases through:

Renewable energy – energy creating no extra CO2 emissions
Energy efficiency – using less energy to reduce CO2 emissions
Forest restoration – absorbing and storing CO2

What is sustainable energy?

Most of Climate Care's projects (80%) are in sustainable energy. These are projects that reduce or avoid emissions being released into the atmosphere. The types of projects include renewable energy and energy efficient technologies. Nevertheless, approximately 20% of emissions each year are from deforestation and forest fires, so Climate Care also makes 20% of their CO2 offsets in forest restoration.