Our guide to offsetting the carbon emissions of your flight

Anyone who has travelled with us already will know that as a tour operator we care deeply about the communities in the destinations we visit. For some years we have made it our business to team up with local charities or projects with the aim of creating a positive impact from our visits. During our recent tours to South Africa we have, with your help, donated 18,000R each to Kevin Richardson’s lion sanctuary and Waves for Change and over 14,000R to the JP21 Foundation.

Sadly, many of our favourite destinations are in regions that are starting to see the effects of climate change and so the next step for us is to address the carbon footprint of our air travel and, as it’s something we often get asked about by clients, we thought we’d share our findings and suggestions here.

The first thing to do is measure the footprint of the flight to get a CO2 figure in tonnes. There are many moving parts in this calculation: age and size of aircraft, number of passengers and crew, route taken, weight of cargo (packing less helps!), sustainability score of the airline’s business model and weather conditions during the flight. There are many online calculators around, some of which take into account more of the above variables than others. A good one is the Climate Care dedicated flight calculator which you can find under the aircraft icon here. A return flight for one person direct from Heathrow to Cape Town, for example, produces 2.9 tonnes of CO2.

The next step is to purchase the equivalent CO2 volume in carbon credits. Again, this can appear complicated as there has been a recent rush to market of poor quality projects that don’t have the longevity or rigour required. To create a global standard for carbon offsetting which should assure people wanting to take action that their money is actually being spent properly, Gold Standard have produced a portfolio of verified projects to choose from. Simply visit their Offset your Emissions page, select a project that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, put the required number of  CO2 tonnes in your basket (rounding up to the nearest whole tonne) and check out. It’s simple and it really works.