The unintended impacts of being a green blogger

I am getting pretty excited about flying to Italy to blog about the World Environment Day celebrations at the Milan World Expo. Time passes so quickly, I can’t believe I fly out this Friday already! Although I was thinking today…it is rather ironic that this trip will greatly increase my carbon footprint for the year.
The graph below is an old friend with some new additions. Australia doesn’t have government emissions factors for flights, so I borrowed some from the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. As you can see the emissions per kilometre travelled by plane are actually surprisingly similar to travelling by car, or even less!
Where it makes a difference is the enormous distance that people travel by plane. A quick look on google maps shows that Melbourne to Doha is about 12,000 kilometres and Doha to Milan is about another 4,000 kilometres. That’s over 30,000 kilometres return!

On average, a registered vehicle in Australia drives 14,000 kilometres in a year (based on ABS data). While this doesn’t exactly equate to how far the average person drives because cars may be shared, it gives an indication of just how huge the emissions from my one flight are in comparison. In just one week long trip, I will be responsible for the same amount of emissions as if I had driven a car in an average manner for two years.

So what’s a green blogger to do? Purchase some offsets!
The Australian National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) defines a carbon offset as…

Carbon offset: Represents reductions or removals of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere by sinks, relative to a business-as-usual baseline. Carbon offsets are tradeable and often used to negate (or offset) all or part of another entity’s emissions.

I could write a whole post about the different types of offsets but I might leave that for another time. If you are interested, the NCOS provides a good overview.

There are various options to purchase voluntary emissions offsets, however many of them are aimed at organisations who want to obtain carbon neutral status. One option to purchase offsets as an individual is through Greenfleet. Offsets can be purchased to cover certain activities, or on a per tonne basis. The Greenfleet offsets come from native Australian reforestation projects that capture carbon from the atmosphere to compensate for the emissions from different activities (like flying to Italy).

Based on my flight distance of 32,000 kilometres, with an emissions factor of 210 gCO2-e per kilometre, these flights alone will contribute over 6.7 tonnes of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Offsetting them at $13.99 per tonne with Greenfleet will cost me $94. I’m not sure how this compares to purchasing the offsets directly though the airline, but in the grand scheme of international travel, it is not a lot of money. It is sort of like the old phrase – if you can’t afford travel insurance you can’t afford to travel. Replace travel insurance with offsets and I have a recipe for a much greener trip!

If you are interested in reading about my adventures in Italy at the Milan Expo celebrations for World Environment Day – watch this space and follow me on twitter (@karabrussen). I would love to share my experiences with you, and I always love to hear what you have to say in the comments!
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