AviationIATA says its accurate and transparent method will remove confusion and build confidence among travellers, corporate travel managers and travel agents.

Clearing the air over carbon offsets

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Airlines want to end the confusion over carbon offsetting contributions by passengers.
Airlines want to end the confusion over carbon offsetting contributions by passengers. Photo Credit: Getty Images/JM_Image_Factory

If there’s one client question that most travel agents would struggle to answer, it’s this: “I’m being offered the opportunity to make a voluntary carbon offset contribution, on top of the price of my airfare. How is this calculated?”

Up until now, it’s being a rule of thumb approach, with “a plethora of carbon calculation methodologies with varying results creating confusion and denting consumer confidence,” says the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Airlines are not shying away from their commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Led by the International Civil Aviation Association, airlines want to be on the same flight path to net zero.

Carbon offsetting allows individuals and businesses to neutralise greenhouse gas emissions and reduce their environmental impact.

As travellers, corporate travel managers, and travel agents are increasingly demanding precise flight CO2 emission information, an accurate and standardised calculation methodology is critical.– Willie Walsh, IATA

A passenger’s carbon offsetting contribution goes into purchasing independently verified carbon offsets, and this supports environmental projects that remove greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere or prevent future emissions from occurring.

For example, Singapore Airlines uses its carbon offset contributions to support rainforest preservation in Indonesia, solar energy use in India and cleaner cooking in Nepal.

IATA’s new carbon offset initiative has a long-winded title, ‘IATA Recommended Practice Per-Passenger CO2 Calculation Methodology’. It uses verified airline operational data to provide the most accurate calculation methodology for the industry to quantify CO2 emissions per passenger for a specific flight.

“As travellers, corporate travel managers, and travel agents are increasingly demanding precise flight CO2 emission information, an accurate and standardised calculation methodology is critical.

“This is particularly true in the corporate sector where such calculations are needed to underpin voluntary emissions reductions targets,” IATA says.

Willie Walsh, IATA's director general, claims the new methodology will be “accurate and transparent” and will help organisations and individuals to make informed choices about flying sustainably.

“This includes decisions on investing in voluntary carbon offsetting or sustainable aviation fuel use,” Walsh said.

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