Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Siteseeing - 14

Travel Greener

Quicker than you can say Pachouri, we’ve suddenly come all over environmentalist. We now talk grimly of recycling, cutting emissions, carbon footprints and more, not just as dippy tree-hugger behaviour, but as something we all need to know more about. More talk than action, it must be said, but at least we’re taking it seriously. And we travellers—yes, you too, dear reader—must do our share too. The buying and selling of ‘carbon credits’ is one of the businesses born of this awareness.
Now I have to admit that I’m just over the clueless line about how exactly this works, but what I understand is this. When you fly, your share of the plane’s emissions significantly increases your personal carbon footprint. (A Bombay-Delhi flight would send 288 kilos of carbon into the air; Bombay-Boston would be 2689kgs.) You can offset the damage to the environment by purchasing carbon offsets, which are used in projects that reduce CO2 emissions elsewhere.
This site lets you make travel bookings (flights, hotels, cars), and uses its commissions to fund its environment-protecting projects. It also has calculators that let you calculate flight or road-trip emissions and then buy offsets directly. (The road-trip calculator only works for US trips, alas.) Cool idea, and a worthy model for someone to emulate in India. And when you do, please send me some free credits for pointing it out to you, okay?

Published in Outlook Traveller, Januray 2008.

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