Wednesday 15 January 2014

Carbon offsetting

Yesterday a friend told me that she's really looking forward to a relaxing week in Fiji after a really busy few months.  I was happy for her that she could have this holiday, but sad to think of the suffering flying inflicts on some of the world's most vulnerable people.  The flights were already booked so it seemed too late to encourage her and her husband to consider holidaying in the Bay of Islands or somewhere else local instead, but maybe they could at least offset the carbon emissions of the flight.  After thinking about it for a while, this is the email I sent in response:
Hi again,
A relaxing week in Fiji sounds lovely :-)

May I ask, have you considered offsetting your carbon emissions for the flights?

As a Christian, the human suffering and death climate change is causing concerns me deeply.  This is the article that first opened my eyes to what Western lifestyles are doing to people in low-lying poor countries like Bangladesh.

However, it need not all be doom and gloom!  Planting trees etc. can soak up the carbon that planes emit, meaning that people like those in the article can see their children grow to healthy adulthood after all.  That's what carbon offsetting is all about.  There's more information about it and how it works here and here.

In addition, the charity that Martin and I use for carbon offsetting (Trees Water and People) doesn't just plant trees for the sake of it.  They employ people in poor communities in Latin America to grow the trees and plant them out, plus the trees are planted in places where they'll be useful: like to stabilise soil on eroded hillsides, or fruit and nut trees planted in places where people don't generally get to eat a good balanced diet.  They also provide fuel-efficient cookstoves to people in places like Haiti, which are better for the people who use them as they're cheaper to run and less smoky, and they provide solar heating for people living on Native American reservations in the US.  I like the way that donating to them helps both our poor brothers and sisters in low-lying places like Bangladesh as well as our poor brothers and sisters in the places where TWP actually work :-)

For flights, we use this calculator to figure out what our carbon emissions are.  Your flights to Fiji will emit around 2 tonnes over the round trip (for the both of you, not each).  If you wanted to offset them using Trees Water and People, their offsets page is here.  You can choose whether you want your money to go to treeplanting, cookstoves or solar heating.  Alternatively, you could search online for a programme that did work you particularly liked: there are heaps to choose from.  Carbon footprint has lots of projects to choose from.

I hope you don't mind me raising this matter.  I'd be really interested in hearing your response.  And I do hope you have a lovely holiday after all the recent busyness!


--Heather :-)
I'm mostly putting this on the blog so I can refer to it again later myself, but I'd be interested if any of you had any comments to make on it, too :-)

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