For years now I’ve taxed myself with carbon offsetting for our family’s flights. Perhaps what has drawn me to offsets is the fact that I can do some good – indirectly – even when my travel choices are suspect. Take my last trip to Bangkok, for example. The carbon emissions from the flights alone would be more than I could ever save while I was there, even if I chose to live on the street, eat locally produced vegetarian food and walk everywhere. It’s hard to overstate the environmental costs of flying, and at ISKL we do lots of it.
Fortunately, our two biggest programs (by flying kilometers) – HS Athletics and the GAP program – have also established great track records of offsetting their trips. Flights taken on GAP trips, for example, are offset through an organization called Climate Care (www.climatecare.org). Essentially carbon offsets provide funding for low-carbon alternatives. Though not ideal it’s a logical start considering we can’t plant the thousands of trees it would take to compensate for ISKL’s aggregate flight mileage. The costs are reasonable too, as offsets vary from just a few Ringgit equivalent (roughly RM 10 for a round trip ticket to Bangkok) to approximately RM 200 for an around-the-world ticket.
Carbon offsetting organizations provide simple calculators to determine the distances, carbon emissions and/or costs to compensate for trips. Carbon offsetting is not limited to flights either as such organizations often provide the same service for business operations or home use. If not, you can always just donate money to tree planting organizations such as the Nature Conservancy (www.plantabillion.org) or Plant a Tree Foundation (www.pattfoundation.org). Ideally, of course, you can always head out and plant a few trees yourself and let your children learn hands-on!
Offsets should never replace unnecessary travel, but where it is deemed to be appropriate the least we can do is help to provide opportunities to those who are “in the know” with regards to carbon offsetting and positive change. Especially with summer travel around the corner such an initiative would be a excellent consideration.