Flying into trouble – Nov 2007

One of the challenges of trying to green up your lifestyle is those pesky friends and family moving away to exotic locations living the life of luxury under a palm tree. We have two friends now living in Cape Town. While we desperately want to visit them to keep in touch, we also know that a return flight to South Africa creates some 4 tonnes of CO2. We’ve measured our annual carbon footprint at nearly 5 tonnes so one flight almost doubles this already too great a figure.

The way I see it is we can do one of two things, either rule out flying altogether and hope our friends decide to return to the UK and pester them with emails in the meantime or fly out very rarely on special occasions and offset the CO2 we use.

Offsetting, now there is a dirty word in some circles! It has certainly received at best a mixed press recently. There are two main reasons for this, firstly it is seen as a way of excusing our consumerist lifestyles in the West, carrying on in our wasteful habits but paying a little to an offset to ease our conscience. Secondly many offset schemes have doubtful environmental benefits and high administration costs.

The solution I believe is also twofold.

  1. I for one do not use offsetting as a conscience saver but as a last resort if we have to travel by plane.
  2. The money that we have in the past given to one of the many offsetting companies we now pay to the Wedmore Green Group where there are no administration costs and 100% of the money will go towards local environmental projects.

If you would like to do the same then you can calculate your flight mileage and CO2 usage at this web address, http://www.carbonneutral.com/cncalculators/flightcalculator.asp . Then if you would like the money to be spent locally please write a cheque to the Wedmore Green Group and post it to the address below.