We take a great number of things into account before making our travel arrangements but one factor that we tend to ignore completely is how our trip is going to affect the environment. Jack Miles, a Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur award-winning author wants to change that.
An article was published in the Washington Post last month by the author, which he called: “For the Love of Earth, Stop Traveling.” In the article, Miles shows how he used an online calculator provided by a Swiss non-profit organization, MyClimate, to calculate the carbon footprint of traveling to speak at an event in Morocco.
According to his calculations, the round-trip flights for him and his wife would pump 7.6 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. To give a better idea of the significance of this number, a couple generates an annual carbon footprint of 14.9 tons all year round through their normal activities like electricity usage, ground transportation, and waste disposal.
This single trip would increase the couple’s carbon footprint by more than 50 %. Miles wrote, “The harm we did with one international trip surely neutralized any good that we did all year as recyclers, eco-consumers, and financial contributors to environmental organizations.”
Kai Landwehr, MyClimate’s Head of Marketing pointed out that air travel accounts for 2% to 3 % of global carbon dioxide emissions, and the figure is expected to double in the next decade. The best way to reduce emissions would be to stop air travel altogether but for people that must travel, he advises them to follow some simple steps.
They can reduce their emissions by flying coach, and travel through airlines that use biofuels. Another thing that will help if the flight is non-stop. Another thing they can do is to purchase carbon offsets for their flights, essentially donating a set amount of money corresponding to the damage caused by their specific travel plans to a non-profit organizations or company focused on environmental initiatives.
Some airlines offer these offsets on their websites, but according to Landwehr, the system needs improvement. “The most crucial aspect is an easy, smooth, and customer-friendly integration in the booking process. Today, even with our partners, it is not that comfortable for clients to offset their emissions. The offsetting platforms are hidden or appear when the booking process is already finished. It’s a ‘polluters pay’ principle. You are causing harm to the environment, so you pay to balance out this harm to the environment.”
So next time you plan that trip abroad, rethink whether you really need to travel or not!