British Airways Kicks Off Its New Carbon Offset Scheme

British Airways’ new carbon offsetting scheme goes live today. The scheme sees all of the airline’s domestic flights becoming carbon neutral. Air France’s similar scheme also goes live today.

British Airways, Carbon Offsetting, Environmental Impact
From today British Airways will offset all domestic flights. Photo: British Airways

Carbon offsetting is becoming a hot topic as airlines look to be accountable for their emissions. In fact, despite being accountable for just 2.5% of global emissions, aviation has become the emissions scapegoat. However, the airline industry is taking this seriously, especially when it comes to shorter journeys that may not be necessary, such as the United Kingdom’s domestic flights. This is where carbon offsetting kicks in.

What is carbon offsetting?

In a nutshell, carbon offsetting is the process of offsetting carbon. However, this doesn’t tell us much, so let’s take a more in-depth look. The amount of CO2 emissions given out by a flight largely varies on the aircraft type, length of flight, and weight.

For example, according to British Airways’ CO2 calculator, an economy class flight from London to Manchester would attract a carbon emission of 0.04 tonnes of co2 per passenger. Meanwhile, a London to Los Angeles flight is more like 1.39 tonnes per passenger.

British Airways, Carbon Offsetting, Environmental Impact
The latest generation of aircraft engines are cleaner than ever before. Photo: British Airways

Carbon offsetting works by looking to invest in projects to reduce emissions elsewhere by a comparable amount. For example, Lufthansa’s scheme allows you to pick between planting trees or purchasing sustainable jet fuel for the airline.

Why start with domestic flights?

It is in British Airways’ interests to start with domestic flights when it comes to carbon offsetting. Why? Take the flight from Manchester to London. The fastest train journey between London Euston and Manchester Picadilly takes just two hours and four minutes. When you factor in the time and hassle of airport travel, and things like security. It almost balances out.

If you once again compare London to Manchester with London to Los Angles, you realise it is a lot easier to substitute the journey to Manchester. This is why British Airways is beginning to make these flights carbon neutral. In a roundabout way, their impact on the environment is negated.

British Airways, Carbon Offsetting, Environmental Impact
It’s much easier to justify replacing a short domestic flight, compared to a transatlantic hop. Photo: British Airways

Air France too?

Air France’s carbon offsetting scheme for domestic flights also goes live today. This will see the French flag carrier offsetting all emissions on flights within mainland France. However, beyond the mandatory offsetting of domestic flights, airlines could do much more to make it easier to offset emissions on other flights. While Ryanair allows passengers to offset their emissions during the booking process, many other airlines need you to visit another website. These include Lufthansa and British Airways. Meanwhile, SAS offsets all journeys by its frequent fliers, but won’t allow others to offset flights.

Do you think airlines are doing enough to offset their carbon emissions? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!