Carbon Offsets for Travel: Where Does it Go?
Yesterday I bought a plane ticket to North Carolina to visit my brother and his family. When I was doing the final payment review, I saw the carbon offset option labeled “Leave the World a Better Place™ – Carbon Offsetting Option.” The amount of money that was estimated to offset my amount of CO2 from this itinerary ( for around 1,140 miles of air travel from OH to NC), was estimated at $2.90, and I could opt in to pay this for my ticket, and the money would go to Sustainable Travel International (STI.)
I was surprised that the CO2 offset was so low, and I wondered where the money would go if I opted in. I checked out the website of STI, a non-profit organization that Continental, United, Enterprise and other businesses partner with. When you make a contribution to Sustainable Travel International for the purpose of purchasing carbon offsets, you are directing STI to buy the amount of carbon offsets that you want on your behalf.
You don’t own the emissions offsets your pay for as your property, but they are used for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Current projects in the carbon offset program include one project in Madagascar, and six wind farm projects in the United States.
One project is protecting Madagascar’s Northeastern Forests, where carbon offset credits are used to help reduce deforestation rates. The goal is to get the deforestation rates down to 0.07 percent, or the rate found in nearby national parks.
The wind farm projects are overseen by Bonneville Environmental Foundation who provide renewable energy carbon offsets in the United States.
BEF Wind Energy Projects Include:
Sherbino Wind Farm, Texas
Forest Creek Wind Farm, Texas
White Creek Wind, Washington
Wilton Wind Energy Center, North Dakota
Tatanka Wind Facility, North Dakota and South Dakota
I was surprised to see that the majority of projects for carbon offset was for windfarms. I thought it would be about planing trees, or improving the natural environment in some way.
I did not purchase my carbon offset credits for my ticket. I would rather take the $2.90 and plant a tree.