How Airlines and Passengers Can Reduce Their Carbon Footprint

United Airlines' last Boeing 747 on its final voyage.

By Paul Riegler on 22 April 2019
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Travel, unless by foot, is not eco friendly but it is possible for travelers to take steps to lower their carbon footprint. The choice of airline, hotel, even the choice of renting a bike versus a car, can all make a difference.

When it comes to air travel and carbon emissions, doing something about it gets tricky. An aircraft burns thousands of gallons of fuel to move several hundred people across the globe.

One solution is for passengers to purchase carbon offsets. While these don’t reduce an aircraft’s emissions, it does fund green activities that offset the negative effects of these emissions.

Since 2007, Delta Air Lines has offered passengers an easy way to purchase carbon offsets, and other airlines have followed its lead.

Earth Day is a good time to review what programs airlines offer in this vein so here follow some ways in which you can fly and still lower your environmental impact.

In addition to Delta, several other U.S. airlines – including Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, and United Airlines – offer carbon offset programs, as do numerous foreign carriers, that determine emissions on a particular flight and suggest a donation amount for a passenger to make in order to offset the environmental impact.

Here’s a look at what the U.S. airlines have to offer.

Alaska works with Carbonfund.org to offset part of the carbon footprint from its flights. The recommended offset for a round-trip flight from John F. Kennedy International to Seattle International airports is $8.40.

The Seattle-based airline also offers the option to calculate the offset using radiative forcing because contrails lead to a net warming factor, which is estimated to be 2.7 times the normal effect.. With radiative forcing, the offset amount would be $22.67.

Delta supports three of the Nature Conservancy’s carbon-offset projects. For a round trip from JFK to Los Angeles International Airport, the calculator recommends an offset donation of $11.46.

For a round trip from New York to Tokyo’s Narita Airport, the offset donation is $39.34.

New York-based JetBlue also works with Carbonfund.org and its calculator also optionally takes radiative forcing into consideration when calculating an offset. For a trip from JFK to San Francisco International Airport, the standard offset is $8.77. With radiative forcing taken into consideration, the offset would be $23.68.

Finally, United, as part of its eco-skies program, supports two initiatives, namely the Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm in Texas and the Alto Mayo Conservation Initiative. Both take seasonal differences into consideration when calculating carbon offsets.

For a round-trip flight from Newark Liberty International Airport, serving the New York metropolitan area, to Los Angeles International Airport, the recommended offset would be $7.37 to the Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm or $8.84 to the Alto Mayo Conservation Initiative.

For a round-trip flight from Newark to Tokyo’s Narita Airport, the suggested offset would be $22.53 to the Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm or $27.03 to the Alto Mayo Conservation Initiative.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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