Continental Airlines has partnered with non-profit Sustainable Travel International to offer its new(ish) carbon offset program. I made my feelings about carbon offset programs clear some time ago, but I’ll give you the quick and dirty about this program that I wrote about several months back anyway. Use your own good judgment when deciding if this type of program is worth your hard earned dollars.
This program allows passengers to volunteer contributions to Sustainable Travel International to negate the damage they are doing to the environment by flying in a diesel fuel guzzling jumbo jet. Customers around the world can check their own personal carbon footprint for their trip, which shows what amount of damage you personally are doing to the environment. The figure is created by calculating the amount of fuel consumption, surely divided by passenger, on your various flights. You can then make an equivalent donation to Sustainable International, who will in turn invest the money in to a world-saving charity. Or, if you prefer, you can donate a random amount.
The carbon offset donations are used for “high-impact sustainable development projects that are designed to reduce the impact of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. Sustainable Travel International provides carbon offset projects, located all over the world, which are independently verified or certified by third-party sources.”
According to the press release, Continental has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption by almost 35% per passenger over the last 10 years. Obviously, this is a good thing.
If you to donate to the cause, there are four options for your dollars. Each of the projects are Gold Standard emission reduction projects, managed by MyClimate. They are renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that are “validated, registered and verified following Clean Development Mechanism principles under the Kyoto Protocol; international reforestation projects that preserve and create critical forests and that are designed using the standards set forth by the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Alliance; U.S. Green-e certified renewable energy projects, such as wind farms; or a combination of these projects.”
How do you find out YOUR carbon footprint? On continental.com, you can link on the confirmation page after you purchase your ticket, you can go to Reservations > Change/View Existing Reservations for an existing itinerary, by visiting the “My Account” section (if you’re a OnePass member with a booked itinerary), or by visiting About Continental > Company Profile > Commitment to the Environment. It couldn’t be easier to find, unless they stuck it right on the main page. If you want to determine your footprint before you make a purchase, you can do so by following the “About Continental” path.
Corporate customers need not feel left out. Contracted corporate customers can use this program to offset the carbon emissions associated with their business travel with Continental as well.
Finally, if you read my previous post on the subject, I’m not saying these donations are bad. Just that it would be much more environmentally friendly to stay home (which is generally not an option for business travelers) as you can’t really take back the damage you’re doing to the planet. I have no beef with Continental’s policy in particular, I’m suspect of ALL programs who make this type of claim.