What offsetting calculator do you use? Where do you donate?

Those are the two questions we’ve been asked lots during 2019, so here are our answers:

What offsetting calculator do you use?

We use www.atmosfair.de to calculate the greenhouse gas emissions from our flights, as set out in our carbon offsetting strategy. After looking at lots of calculators online, we found it to be the most rigorous and transparent in its calculations. Unlike most, the calculator also includes the non-CO2 effects of flying.

Beyond calculating our flight emissions to know how much to offset, we have actually used the calculator to help us decide which flights to buy (if we have to fly!). It’s easy to compare the emissions of different routes (when you are required to stopover), so you can compare and factor that in. They also have an airline index where you can compare the efficiency of different airlines’ planes. So for example, for flights we took to Canada last year, we bought flight tickets that resulted in 4% less emissions than the alternative routes and airlines on offer*. 

*That might not sound much, but it saved 400kg of CO2 equivalent which is – on average – the same as one quarter of one person’s emissions in India for a whole year. (That comparison definitely puts in perspective the extraordinarily high emissions from long-haul flights.)

Where do you donate?

We donate to a few different initiatives, predominantly efforts to halt deforestation through Cool Earth and renewable energy projects through Atmosfair at the moment: 

  1. Cool Earth – https://www.coolearth.org/

Cool Earth focuses on halting and preventing deforestation of tropical rainforest through supporting local communities and their livelihoods. We wrote a previous blog about their work here. Through the funding they provide, they help reduce the pressures communities are facing to deforest (whether through ‘shifting cultivation’ or selling land to loggers). As set out on their website, “8% of all global emissions are from tropical deforestation alone, but these same forests can provide 23% of the cost-effective climate mitigation needed before 2030”. 

  1. Projects through Atmosfair – https://www.atmosfair.de/en/climate-protection-projects/

Atmosfair has rigorous project standards that focus on renewable energy schemes. 90% of these are CDM/Gold Standard projects (combining these two different offsetting standards and their own to ensure emissions are additional, avoid leakage, and prevent other negative impacts). The other 10% are micro-projects requiring start up funding that are not at large enough scale to afford verifying their emissions with the CDM/Gold Standard certification. 

NB We have also received donations from friends and family for our birthday and Christmas presents to donate trees here in New Zealand through Trees That Count. They direct the funds received from businesses and individuals to community groups and landowners around New Zealand who are wanting to plant trees and need money to do so.