Action 182: Offset your carbon emissions if you fly

carbon offsetDate: 01 July
Action: 182
Cost of taking action: £/$/€ VARIES (link included to calculator below)


If you HAVE to fly, you can offset the carbon emissions associated with your trip

As we head into the peak of the summer holidays here in the Northern hemisphere, and with COVID-19 restrictions less than they were at this time last year, many people are looking again at booking holidays abroad.

If you have to fly, or insist on flying, then we are asking you to look at offsetting the carbon emissions associated with your flight. Ideally, you’d travel by train or take a holiday nearer home this year, but if you do fly, it’s a good way of at least trying to address the balance a little.

How does it work?

Aircraft jet engineBased on the “polluter pays” principle, carbon offsetting involves calculating how much carbon dioxide is generated by your flight, and then making a payment to cover the cost of cancelling out the impact by funding projects that reduce or store carbon. The most obvious and popular ones are forest preservation and tree planting, but “carbon credits” are also awarded for projects that reduce fossil fuel use in other ways, such as windfarms, solar cookstoves, or better farming methods.

Some of the airlines will offer you the chance to offset your emissions at the time you book your flight. However, some of their schemes have proved controversial, with airlines accused of greenwashing their products. If you are serious about carbon offsetting, do your research carefully.

Some good starting points for this include this article from The Guardian, and the Wikipedia entry on carbon offsetting.

The cost of carbon offsetting will depend on the distance flown and your class of seat. For example, according to (try it!) a one way flight from Heathrow, London to JFK, New York in economy class (trip of 5,500km) for 2 travellers will result in 1.8 tonnes of CO2 being emitted. There are various assumptions made about the level of seat occupation on the aircraft and the aircraft type and efficiency when these calculations are made.

To offset this using will cost £40 GBP, or $56 USD, or E45 EUR (calculated as at 01 July 2021).

Why is this important?

Taking this action is important for a number of reasons:

  • if you use a reputable scheme, your money will genuinely be allocated to carbon reduction projects
  • these project are contributing to our efforts to control carbon dioxide levels and manage global warming
  • it provides us with an indicator of the cost of the things we sometimes take for granted
  • it sets a good example to our children
  • it means you are accepting some responsibility for the damage you are doing by flying
  • learning about the environmental cost may deter you from flying!

Take action

Take action, take responsibility, for your flying and the damage it does. If you have to book a flight, head on over to a carbon offset scheme such as and make a donation to offset your carbon emissions.

Thank you very much for doing this!