Offsetting: what aviation is already doing

Environmental Economic measures

While we are awaiting the decision on a global mandatory offsetting scheme for all emissions over 2020 levels, we thought we might take a look at what aviation, or airlines more specifically, are already doing in terms of offsetting.

Countdown to the ICAO AssemblyOffsetting is by no means an entirely new concept for airlines, with a wide range of voluntary arrangements already in place with airlines throughout the world. In fact, more than 40 airlines now run voluntary carbon offsetting programmes.

Some of these operate through the IATA carbon offset programme, which guides its member airlines as to how to run an effective programme and uses a set of best practices for offsetting. It helps airlines calculate the emissions they produce, based on actual fuel consumption data and associated emissions, which informs decisions on the number of carbon credits to purchase. It also outlines where to source offsets and some of the more practical elements of the process. Currently, there are six airlines formally participating in the programme (Kenya Airways, TAP Portugal, SriLankan Airlines, Thai Airways, South African Airways and Mango), but many more have used the publically-available guidelines. You can find out more about the IATA offset programme in the Aviation Climate Solutions.

Other airlines operate voluntary offset programmes of their own. Qantas, another entry in the Aviation Climate Solutions, began its Fly Carbon Neutral Programme in 2009 and, through a range of offsetting projects, has offset over two million tonnes of CO2.

Air Canada’s offsetting programme has been in place since 2007 and has used the voluntary offsets purchased by customers to offset nearly 22,250 tonnes of CO2.

These are just a couple of examples. Plenty of airlines offer the option to offset your flight, so next time you make a booking, be sure to check if the option to offset is available!