Carbon offsetting is something we talk about often at App in the Air, as it’s at the core of how we approach sustainability and our mission to do right by the planet. You know carbon offsets do good, but how? Today, we’re taking a step back to actually break it down so you can be better informed of what your carbon offset purchase actually entails.
What are carbon emissions, and why are they bad?
Understanding what carbon emissions are is a good place to start. When we talk about carbon emissions, we’re referring to the carbon dioxide (CO2) that is released into the atmosphere. CO2 is a gas that comes from various natural sources—it is emitted when humans and animals breathe, when plants decompose, etc. However, an excess of CO2 in the atmosphere is where the issue lies. Man-made carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels add an excess of CO2, which disrupts the Earth’s natural carbon cycle. CO2 is the primary makeup of harmful greenhouse gasses, which trap heat in the atmosphere, and in turn causes changes in the climate such as natural disasters. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the transportation and energy sectors were the primary contributors to carbon emissions in the United States in 2018. Transportation does include air travel, however it is important to put the make-up into perspective. The Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) attributes 12% of emissions from all transport sources to the global aviation industry, and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) cites that the commercial aviation industry is responsible for approximately 2–3% of all global carbon emissions.
What does it mean to offset your carbon footprint?
First, let’s talk carbon footprint. This refers to the total emissions generated by an individual. We each have varying amounts of carbon footprint depending on how we live our daily lives. To offset it, means to fund environmental projects that reduce the emissions you’re responsible for. Environmental projects can include reforestation projects and clean energy projects, both of which App in the Air supports through its sustainability partnerships. Offsets are typically tracked in measurable units of CO2 emissions reductions, most commonly expressed in tonnes. The action of purchasing enough carbon offsets to neutralize the amount of carbon you produce is what makes you carbon-neutral.
How do I purchase a carbon offset?
From April 20–26, App in the Air is encouraging travelers to offset their flight-related emissions directly within the app through its partnership with CBL Markets. CBL Markets provides access to the world’s energy and environmental commodity markets, facilitating the secure and seamless trading of commodities like carbon, renewable energy, water, and gas. Purchasing an offset during this period automatically grants you a chance to win sustainable prizes during Earth Week—you can read more about it here.
You can also access our carbon footprint calculator on the web anytime throughout the year. By inputting your the details of your flight, it will calculate your footprint in tonnes, and also tell you the number of trees you would need to purchase for an offset. Many would be shocked by how affordable it is to do so. For example, the cost to offset a round-trip flight from Seattle to Miami (2724 miles/4384 kilometers) is just $3.