Is Carbon Offsetting Worthwhile?

Firstly, I wanted to apologise for no longer blogging on a weekly basis – SO many of my fans have been asking why this is the case (two people have asked me). I only want to blog about topics that I feel passionately about, and by committing to blog on a weekly basis, it was reaching the stage where some posts just didn’t feel quite right – thus I may be blogging less frequently, or perhaps more frequently, who knows!

Blogging aside, I have been wanting to write this post for a while…

We’re all aware that flying is terrible for the environment; flights account for 2.5% of the world’s carbon emissions, and the industry is growing. As carbon offsetting becomes increasingly popular, I wanted to share my honest thoughts on whether paying a company to offset your emissions is a beneficial way to approach the issue (spoiler alert – it’s not. It’s really not).

What is carbon offsetting?

There are two types of carbon offsetting schemes, corporate (directly through the airline) and personal, which allow people to ‘balance’ out their carbon footprints by making a voluntary financial contribution towards projects that help to reduce CO2 emissions. It is based on calculating how much CO2 is emitted by an activity (predominantly flying), and then funding a project designed to reduce carbon emissions such as tree planting or clean-energy projects.

It’s great that carbon offsetting is raising awareness of the environmental impact caused by our lifestyle choices – when I say lifestyle choices, I don’t mean this in a condescending way – of course some flights are unavoidable due to a variety of reasons. It’s also great to support credible initiatives that increase energy efficiency and contribute positively towards aiding the climate crisis.

Other than the importance of raising awareness, I am sceptical about carbon offsetting.

It seems like carbon offsetting is being used by many, particularly irresponsible influencers, as an easy way out of taking real responsibility. You’re not ‘neutralising’ the damage that you have caused by going on multiple press trips to Bali and Thailand in order to promote poor quality teeth whitening toothpaste. You’re simply appeasing your guilty conscience with little interest in improving your carbon footprint.

The ethics of carbon offsetting are complex, and this post is not about shaming anyone for flying (tomorrow I will be flying with a budget airline, so who am I to judge?!) It’s unreasonable to ask people to stop flying, but it’s perfectly reasonable to ask people to think about a major reduction. The simple and most effective solution is to reduce your own emissions.

If you do choose to offset, please do so responsibly; the programmes that I have been recommended are Gold Standard, Climate Care and My Climate. However, this is not a route that I wish to go down – I fly a lot less than I used to due to the nature of my job, and the fact that I often choose UK based holidays over travelling abroad.

I believe that ‘carbon neutrality’ does not exist when it comes to flying. Carbon offsetting is obtusely class blind, and in my opinion, not something that you can buy your way out of. Please take some responsibility, please look after our planet, and please excuse all my clichés.

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