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Travel emissions carbon offsetting and the climate crisis: questions dilemmas and suggestions

Naus, M., Radman, P., Zheng, V., Gammeri, C., Salman, A., & Peeters, P.
Bibliographical information:
Naus, M., Radman, P., Zheng, V., Gammeri, C., Salman, A., & Peeters, P. (2020). Travel emissions, carbon offsetting and the climate crisis: questions, dilemmas and suggestions. Retrieved from https://goodtravel.guide/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/GTG-Travel-Impact-Article-final-Dec-2020.pdf
Carbon offset programs in the travel industry are based on the idea that the carbon emissions of a journey
can be removed from the atmosphere by paying for an action or project, making the journey carbon
neutral. The effectiveness and the limitations of offset programs, such as planting or protecting trees, have
been evaluated by the authors of this article. It was found that most offset programs do not have the
impact that is suggested. 85 percent of offset projects have a high likelihood of overestimating their
effectiveness and not being additional, meaning that the project activity would have occurred even if it
was not implemented as an offset project. Moreover, estimated emissions and offset costs provided by
various travel companies vary greatly and are often far lower than what would be considered fair
compensation. It is argued that offering offsetting as a simple, cheap option to compensate for travel
emissions will help continue business as usual, with no incentive for real change and with no serious
contribution to the Paris Agreement. Travellers looking for a way to address their travel impact are
advised to reduce emissions first, with compensation only as a last resort. The article provides suggestions
on how to reduce travel emissions, what to do instead of offsetting, and how to make informed decisions
if you choose to offset.
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