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Can You Bribe the Environment to Reduce the Size of Your Carbon Footprint?

Global WarmingOffset carbon emissions” and “reduce carbon footprint” have become popular phrases in the world of business travel. I keep seeing articles about business travelers or travel companies making payments to offset the carbon emissions created by frequent flying. Companies, even the big guys, are jumping on the “green image” bandwagon like wildfire. The goal of the whole thing, besides a cuddly image, is to reduce emissions created by airlines. Super. But what exactly are they doing with that cash?

They are “donating” it to an organization such as Carbon Fund or C Red, which are in place to initiate carbon reduction efforts like reforestation or alternative fuels. Excellent.

The faulty logic in the equation is that providing funds to offset the carbon emissions negates the carbon dioxide created by the flight and thus makes for a “carbon neutral” flight. Guess what? No matter what amount of fee you add, it doesn’t make the massive amount of byproduct disappear. By all means, any given person needs to be aware of the ecological effects of his or her travel, but this isn’t a permanent solution, it just looks good on paper. So feel good about your company’s efforts to reduce it’s carbon footprint, but understand what that means. When travel companies make statements such as “a convenient way for people to heal the planet – even while on vacation,” it just isn’t true. Sure, it’s better than going on vacation WITHOUT providing any funding to a carbon reduction organization, but it still doesn’t make all the ugly emissions go away.

I’m not sure what the environmental impact would be for any individual staying in a hotel rather than their home. I guess if you leave the heat on 76 and don’t unplug your PC, then you’re double dipping your power allotment during your travel time. There’s an easy fix – don’t do that. Beyond those irresponsible activities, I would think it would be irrelevant. If your home systems are less eco-efficient, you might actually do LESS damage by staying in a hotel. I’m not saying you should stay home all of the time, just understand that the fee isn’t reversing global warming or re-freezing the polar ice caps or bringing back the numbers of polar bears in the arctic.