Travel Global Warming And Carbon Offsets

With the​ growing awareness about global warming has come an​ increasing pressure on​ the​ travel industry,​ in​ particular aviation,​ to​ take steps towards the​ off setting of​ carbon emissions. According to​ figures from the​ Stern Review the​ contribution of​ aircraft to​ global warming is​ 3% today and could rise to​ 5% by 2050. And although aircraft emissions are the​ fastest growing source of​ greenhouse gases,​ cracking down on​ flights isn’t going to​ save the​ world. in​ comparison road transport accounts for 10%,​ electricity generation 24% and deforestation 18% (half of​ this last figure is​ due to​ deforestation in​ just two countries alone,​ Brazil and Indonesia).
People,​ however,​ ignore these facts. Many feel that holiday travel is​ a​ luxury and therefore discretionary. in​ effect,​ if​ we are serious about saving the​ planet then it​ is​ something which we can cut without too many far reaching consequences. Rather than people campaigning for cleaner nuclear energy or​ the​ preservation of​ forests they prefer the​ moralistic feeling of​ raging against the​ jetsetters and western consumerism.
This is​ where the​ moral pressure to​ plant trees,​ buy carbon credits and offset our carbon footprint comes from. But the​ very idea that we can plant our way out of​ climate change is​ faintly ridiculous. There’s recent research to​ suggest that planting trees in​ Northern climes may actually trap heat leading to​ an​ increase in​ global warming. Trees suck up CO2 but in​ temperate latitudes absorb a​ lot of​ heat without losing much moisture; and when the​ trees burn or​ decompose the​ carbon is​ released back into the​ atmosphere. And,​ it​ would take a​ forest the​ size of​ Dorset to​ be planted each year,​ ad infinitum,​ to​ offset the​ UKs carbon emissions - any benefits of​ which would take years to​ materialise.
Other offset schemes,​ such as​ buying energy efficient light bulbs and stoves for the​ developing world,​ may be better. However,​ there is​ an​ underlying problem with the​ concept of​ carbon offsets. Rather than seeking ever more ingenious ways to​ offset pollution we should be trying to​ produce less of​ it​ in​ the​ first place.
But there is​ now a​ burgeoning industry of​ offsetting firms,​ mostly in​ the​ US and UK,​ each happy to​ calculate our carbon debt and each offering a​ bewildering array of​ away to​ neutralise it​ from planting trees in​ Dorset to​ building wind farms in​ India. ABTA,​ which represents 70% of​ British travel agents; has recently announced offsetting schemes and last minute.com has an​ offsetting option on​ its booking page. But do these schemes actually accomplish much? According to​ a​ study by the​ respected US charity,​ Clean Air-Cool Planet,​ the​ answer is,​ perhaps surprisingly,​ often no. the​ study gave a​ mere eight out of​ thirty companies a​ score of​ more than five out of​ ten.
Many of​ the​ schemes - be they planting trees,​ using bio fuels,​ or​ installing solar power - would have occurred anyway and so don’t offset anything. It’s also extremely difficult to​ know whether the​ offsets you​ have purchased have been sold more than once as​ there is​ no record of​ what has already been done. And,​ more cynical,​ consumer guilt over the​ environmental cost of​ flying represents huge dividends for those peddling the​ offset schemes. Another problem is​ that calculations for CO2 offset often vary widely. a​ report in​ the​ magazine Nature showed calculations for the​ CO2 emissions per person on​ a​ return flight from Bangkok to​ London varying between 2.1 to​ 9.9 tons of​ CO2.
Wind farms,​ solar panels,​ installing energy efficient light bulbs,​ low flow showers and energy efficient wood burning stoves are just some of​ the​ options available. But even green groups such as​ Friends of​ the​ Earth remain sceptical. Given scale of​ the​ problem which faces us today we might as​ well try “stopping sea levels rising by drinking a​ glass of​ water”. Indeed,​ UK consumers only offset 1% of​ Britain’s annual emissions.
Certainly greater clarity is​ needed in​ the​ offset industry and people need to​ realise that it​ isn’t the​ answer to​ climate change. the​ reduction of​ emissions is​ far more effective than compensating for those already released. This does seem to​ be the​ growing consensus,​ that carbon offsets are just a​ way for the​ comfortable off to​ salve their consciences without actually making any sacrifices. Perhaps the​ future lies not in​ carbon offsets but in​ rigorous carbon allowances for businesses and individuals and allowing the​ trading in​ such allowances to​ develop.
The most environmentally friendly thing would be to​ stop flying and stop going on​ holidays. This is​ not realistically going to​ happen,​ so people need to​ take their holidays in​ the​ most environmentally friendly way possible. So from now think about your carbon footprint before you​ jet off on​ holiday and check to​ see whether your travel company or​ tour operator has an​ environmental policy; then you’ll be on​ your way to​ becoming an​ eco-friendly traveller.
Travel Global Warming And Carbon Offsets Travel Global Warming And Carbon Offsets Reviewed by Henda Yesti on August 24, 2018 Rating: 5

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