Going Green: Can we offset our carbon footprint by flying?

Can we offset our carbon footprint? (photo: phaisarnwong2517 – stock.adobe.com)

Environmental campaigner and consumer advocacy expert Angela Terry separates fact from fiction about climate change and explains how simple, practical steps can be taken to save the planet. Follow @ouronehome & visiting for more tips.

Q: Is it okay if I book a flight and then offset my carbon footprint?

Answer: Now that overseas travel seems to be finally open after the pandemic, most of us are looking forward to a well-deserved break in the sun.

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I would like to be able to tell you that in-flight carbon offsetting is a way to make it environmentally friendly.

However, I’m afraid this is rarely really a viable alternative to not flying.

What is carbon offset?

It’s a way to offset your carbon footprint by donating to a scheme designed to reduce CO2 emissions equivalently.

For example, a seat on a return flight from London to New York generates about 1.8 tons of CO2.

You can offset your carbon footprint by donating money to a reforestation project to fund the amount of tree planting needed to absorb 1.8 tons of emissions from the atmosphere.

Online calculators like My Climate or carbonfootprint.com will do the math for you and suggest suitable projects.

Really green?

Many environmentalists question the legality of carbon offsets.

As a representative of the European campaign “Transport and the Environment” noted, this is like saying that you are on a diet, and at the same time paying someone else to go to the gym instead of you.

After all, we need to drastically cut our carbon emissions if our planet is to be habitable.

Despite offsetting carbon emissions, your flight still emits the same emissions into the atmosphere.

Plant trees

Many carbon offset schemes fund tree planting because trees absorb carbon dioxide.

As long as the project is credible, it’s fantastic.

But it’s not a substitute for reducing your carbon footprint.

We can only deal with the climate crisis if we protect nature and reduce emissions.

Also, it is good to know that the time frame around carbon offset projects and trees is long term.

For example, a newly planted tree may take over 20 years to capture CO2, as the scheme promises.

Given the urgency of the climate crisis, this is futile.

We have also seen with the spread of wildfires – from Australia to the Amazon – there is no guarantee that young trees will permanently keep warming carbon.

Justice

Most people who fly on planes are relatively wealthy, while the people who are most affected by climate change live in poorer countries.

There is an argument that carbon offsets are just a license to further pollute the environment while others suffer the consequences.

Sure, it’s great to donate to an environmental project, but that won’t negate the damage caused by flying. Our best advice is to fly less.

celebrity place

Simon Cowell, inspired by his seven-year-old son to do the right thing, is the latest celebrity to invest in electric cars.

Simon Cowell (photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

He was spotted arriving at a British Got Talent audition in a fancy neon green Renault Twizy, one of the cheapest electric cars on the market. But the music mogul has a green car uniform. Last year he had a £250,000 Porsche 911 converted to electric by a car company. He also has an electric bike, although he was very unlucky and managed to fall off it twice!

Green swap

Replace your plastic laundry detergent bottle with an eco-friendly, plastic-free subscription service like smol.

We urge you not to use plastic bottles (photo: jchizhe – stock.adobe.com)

Laundry costs 19 pence. The cheapest options cost around 7p a wash, the most expensive 30p. Priced somewhere in between.

The question is, will the energy crisis end soon?

Unfortunately, high electricity bills have been here for a while.

High energy costs (photo: adobe.com)

Ofgem has announced that from April the cap on energy – the maximum amount a utility company can charge customers per year – will rise by a staggering 54% to nearly £2,000 for the average household.

This huge jump reflects the rising cost of gas on the international market.

Unfortunately, this is not a short-term spike. Another raise of potentially £400 is expected from Ofgem in October.

The bills will continue to grow.

Why is the UK so bad?

In the UK, we rely on gas to heat 85 percent of our homes and for a third of our electricity generation.

We also have one of the worst housing stocks in Europe in terms of heat retention.

Our houses are leaking!

As a result, we are very dependent on global fossil fuel prices.

State aid

All customers will receive a temporary discount of £200.

This amount will be repaid in future bills in installments of £40 over the next five years.

Those who live in homes rated A to D for council tax reasons will receive a £150 rebate in their bank account from the local authority.

In addition, vulnerable consumers and people on low incomes should have access to schemes to help cover the cost of lockdown.

They should also receive a discount on a warm house.

Please speak to your energy supplier if you are truly concerned.

However, keep in mind that call center workers will receive a lot of just such requests.

Isolate Britain

We can’t control commodity prices, but we can avoid wasting energy and at the same time reduce our carbon footprint.

This is definitely one of those cases where going green will save you money.

Making your home more energy efficient will cut your bills considerably.

The best thing you can do is to insulate your home.

Up to half of the heat in a home can escape through the roof, walls, windows, and floor.

Everything needs to be insulated.

More information can be found on the One Home or Energy Saving Trust websites.

The better your home is insulated, the warmer it will be in winter.

Another benefit is that its cost will rise.

Making improvements to a property’s energy rating could add more than £16,000 on average to its selling price.

It makes sense to invest in insulation.

Fact or fiction

Most electric vehicles lack range. Lie!

Many average over 200 miles on a single charge.

Norwegian startup Fresco has created an electric car that can travel 1000 km! With UK drivers averaging less than 30 miles a day, range worries are a thing of the past.

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