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OFFSETTING MY CARBON FOOTPRINT WHEN I TRAVEL BY PLANE

On a daily basis you pay attention to your carbon footprint, you consume locally and you favour the bike.

But sometimes to head off and explore the world you don't have any other option than catching a flight. Now you know that this ruins your carbon footprint and the effort you go to in your everyday life, would you like to find a way to limit it? 

Carbon footprint plane

UNDERSTANDING CARBON FOOTPRINT IN TERMS OF DIFFERENT MODES OF TRANSPORT

Why should we try to reduce our carbon footprint when travelling and offset flight emissions?
Simply because if you want to continue to travel, it's important to protect our planet's resources and natural spaces. As well as to reduce global warming.
And it would be a shame for a simple plane journey to wipe out the efforts you are making on a daily basis.

Your carbon footprint is an indicator that aims to measure the impact of an activity on the environment.
According to the European Environment Agency, train is the least polluting form of transport today. It obviously comes out ahead of the car, boat and, of course, plane. To give you a more accurate idea of average CO2 emissions per transport type, the report establishes the carbon footprint of the most commonly used vehicles and modes of transport:
- Train: 14g of CO2
- Bus: 68g of CO2
- Motorbike: 72g of CO2
- Petrol-powered car: 213g of CO2
- Airplane economy class: 285g of CO2

What is the impact on the environment and the carbon footprint of a Paris-New York flight?

In terms of greenhouse gas emissions per traveller and per km, airplanes are at the top of the list of the most polluting forms of transport, along with cars. Flight emissions are 20 times greater than train emissions and 4 times greater than bus. It's one of the modes of transport that has most impact on global warming.
For example, a Paris-New York return flight emits roughly 1 tonne of CO2.
The pollution produced by this flight represents almost all the annual emissions of an individual trying to meet the targets set by the government in an attempt to combat global warming. Hence the importance of finding ways to offset the carbon footprint of a plane journey.

Plane or car: which is the most polluting?

If you're travelling alone by plane or car, your carbon footprint is very clear: obviously the car will emit less CO2. But when you factor in the number of passengers and the distance travelled, calculating the pollution produced by a plane becomes much more complicated. In fact, it depends on the occupancy rate.
Let us look at the case of planes. This mode of transport consumes an average of 3 litres of fuel per passenger for every 100 kilometres travelled. Nowadays, the fuel consumption of a car is almost always more than 4 litres per 100 kilometres.
The result: when you factor in the number of passengers, a full flight burns less fuel. And the greenhouse gas emissions are equivalent to those produced by a single car, even with 4 passengers.

In the near future, kerosene and vegetable oil based biofuels could offer a less polluting alternative and help reduce the quantity of CO2 emissions produced by aircraft.

WHAT CAN I DO TO REDUCE MY CARBON FOOTPRINT WHEN FLYING?

Of course, the ideal would be to avoid having a carbon footprint! Ademe (Agency for the Environment and Energy Management) recommends reducing your carbon footprint before you consider offsetting it. So you should possibly consider whether you really do need to travel or try to find a means of transport other than plane.

One idea for reducing your carbon footprint when flying is to: eliminate stopovers. It is true that it is often more expensive, but taking off and landing are the times that use the most fuel in your journey. Another good excuse to take a direct flight!
The tourism industry is particularly concerned about the issue of carbon footprints; when you buy your ticket, some airlines will offer to transfer a sum of money to partially offset the impact of your flight. The transparency of this process varies from company to company.

HOW DO YOU CALCULATE AND OFFSET YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT?

HOW DO YOU CALCULATE AND OFFSET YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT?

To offset your footprint, you need to start by estimating the amount of CO2 produced by your journey. Carbon footprint calculations are based on different modes of transport, distance travelled and greenhouse gas emissions.

HOW DO YOU CALCULATE AND OFFSET YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT?

What is radiative forcing?

We tried to find a simple way to explain this to you and.... we decided to direct you to Wikipedia instead to avoid inaccurate or imprecise summaries.
Here is the first line of the definition of radiative forcing, as set out by the GIEC (Intergovernmental group of experts on climate change): "Radiative forcing measures the impact of certain factors, which affect the climate, on the energy balance of the earth/atmosphere's system". Please follow the link below for further details.

In sum, radiative forcing corresponds to the difference between the radiation received and emitted by a system.

CARBON OFFSETTING: WHAT AM I FUNDING EXACTLY?

One of the quite common received ideas on offsetting carbon footprints is that the money is used to plant trees. However, in some cases, offsetting by planting trees can be harmful to the environment. In particular, monocultures planted in straight lines; so be very careful!

There are many other programmes that focus on:
- helping developing countries
- helping develop sustainable energies and biofuels
- supporting sustainable agriculture
- preserving biodiversity

. Protecting the environment can sometimes also mean providing access to technologies that will help reduce environmental impact and ensure successful energy transition.
In fact, there are an increasing number of organizations that offer to offset carbon emissions. Forclaz has no link with any of these platforms; the idea is simply to offer a few resources to make things easier for you if you want to take this step.
You can check:
- The European Environment Agency's databases
- The Greentripper Site
- The Good Planet association 

Summary

1 - I try to reduce my carbon footprint (travelling shorter distances, taking the train etc.)

2- I calculate what I can't reduce

3- I offset for want of a better alternative

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