How it all began - carbon offsetting for flights
Through carbon offsetting for air travel, the principle of carbon offsetting was launched shortly after the turn of the millennium. Numerous airlines over the past few years have integrated the optional carbon offsetting tools into their booking processes. This was usually done with moderate success rates, as e.g. the options for carbon offsetting were often not integrated into the booking process in a user-friendly way or the charges levied were simply too high for most customers.
Carbon offsetting does not solve the global climate crisis, but we must acknowledge that both the extensive abandonment of flying and a quick switch from kerosene to climate neutral aviation fuels are illusory. Against this background, we offer a carbon offsetting option for your flight emissions - transparent and fair in price. This despite our fundamental reservations about the harmfulness of flying to the climate.
It should be emphasized: carbon offsetting is necessary as the second best solution until the best solution does not yet exist. It is up to each individual passenger to consider all alternatives to flying. E.g. often business air travel can be replaced by video conferencing, or private air travel could be eliminated entirely by choosing other holiday destinations.
The calculation of GHG emissions from flights is complex
Compared to all other travel options, flights are the most damaging to the climate. More on this here. The calculation of flight GHG emissions is also complex. In particular, the climate impact of flights is not limited to carbon emissions, but also nitrogen oxides, soot particles and water vapor, as well as influencing the formation of clouds also contribute to changes in the atmosphere and have a harmful effect on the climate.
The RFI factor
Therefore, when traveling by air, the so-called radiative forcing index (usually referred to as the RFI factor) is very important for calculating emissions. This factor tries to factor in the non-carbon emissions and also to map their climate impact. By applying the RFI factor, the other greenhouse gases are also taken into account in so-called CO2-equivalents (= CO2e).
At GoClimateAction, when determining flight emissions, we base our calcuations on the current state of scientific knowledge in accordance with the CO2-calculator of the Federal Environment Agency of Germany. This calculator takes numerous criteria into account, including the average occupancy of the aircraft, the average kerosene consumption of the respective aircraft type and the exact flight details (departure and arrival location including flight class).
We made a conscious decision to not make use of a digital flight emissions calculator. We only offer you three standard products with fix emission values for climate neutral flying for short, medium and long haul flights. This for two reasons:
- Experience shows that entering all flight details for the carbon offset is a major reason for many flight customers to not offset their emissions, as this is perceived as too time-consuming.
- Due to the high complexity of calculating flight emissions, we think that the calculation results of a digital flight emissions calculator can only be seen as an approximation of the actual emissions value. Accordingly, the calculation results of the available emissions calculators for the same flight route are often very different. We think that the airline passenger's fundamental commitment to climate action as such is the important message to deliver, and not a quasi accurate emissions figure. For us, a transparent flat-rate emissions volume per flight distance category is a very credible and simple solution.
We therefore offer you the following standard packages for climate-neutral flying:
- Short haul: .i.e. national flight / round trip / acceptance: 1,200 km / RFI factor: 3 = 0.77 t / CO2e
- Mid haul: i.e. international flight / round trip / assumption: 5,000 km / RFI factor: 3.5 = 2.99 t / CO2e
- Long haul: i.e. intercontinental flight / round trip / assumption: 20,000 km / RFI factor: 4 = 7.92 t / CO2e
If you do not like this approach and would like to calculate your emissions for a particular flight individually, we recommend the flight emissions calculator of the Federal Environment Agency, which you can find here . You can then offset the calculated amount of emissions here.