San Francisco airport wants to sell you carbon offset credits

As of yesterday, passengers departing from San Francisco international airport can purchase carbon offset credits before taking their flight. The credits are called “Climate Passport”, and they can be bought from electronic kiosks located throughout the airport.

Each ton of carbon offsets costs $13.50, and a typical transcontinental flight spits out about 1.9 tons. Offsetting that will cost you just under $25. Of course, that number is for the total amount per flight, so if more than one passenger on a flight pays for the offsets, the flight will theoretically be carbon negative.

The money gets split – $12.00 goes towards the Garcia River Forest project, and $1.50 goes to the city of San Francisco to support local carbon reduction projects.

The kiosks cost $190,000 to install, and to me that seems like a heck of a lot of money for something that is going to be a pretty hard sell. On paper the project looks great – it allows passengers to help the environment without having to give up much more than a little of their cash, but in reality I really don’t see many passengers participating – though I’d like to be proven wrong.

You can learn more about the program, and how the collected money is spent, at the Climate Passport web site.


Ways to live green every day, by Continental

Paging through the Continental in-flight magazine last night, I stumbled upon a few “green living” tips.

For example, did you know that:

  • If Americans used one less package of non-recycled paper napkins, it would save one million trees?
  • Ninety percent of the energy used by your washing machine goes to hear the water? Using the cold cycle is much better.
  • Producing and disposing of all the junk mail distributed in the US each year releases as much CO2 as 2,8 million cars?

Continental gives the following easy tips to live green every day:

  1. When you are not traveling, get your morning coffee in a reusable cup. Americans throw away about 40 billion disposable coffee cups each year
  2. Unplug all chargers (cell phone, iPod, etc) when they are not charging their intended device. This reduces carbon emissions by about 100 pounds per year, per charger.
  3. Speed up your shower. Spending just two minutes less in the shower each day could prevent about 400 pounds of CO2 (in the form of energy used to heat and treat the water) from entering the atmosphere each year.
  4. Cut your air travel by half. Just kidding. These are, after all, tips from Continental Airlines.

China Surpasses the U.S. in Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Well, it happened much, much sooner than expected: China’s emissions of carbon dioxide surpassed that of the U.S. in total weight of emissions.

This wasn’t supposed to happen so soon. (In fact, a World Resources Institute website from last year, predicted it would happen in 2009.) Moreover, China might surpass the U.S. in total greenhouse gasses in 2009.

Now, admittedly, this doesn’t relate directly to travel. But travelers are usually interested in one or both of two things: cultures and nature, and this issue affects them both.

It’s worth revisiting our blogging on this issue. We’ve dealt with carbon footprints of flying, both here and here. And we’ve told you about your carbon footprint for travel and even stuff changes in places you can visit, like sunscreens for glaciers. We owe it to ourselves and other travelers to be knowledgeable about this and consider these issues.

Not to be too sappy, but it’s never a bad time for some John Muir-like reflection, fellow travelers: “Most people are on the world, not in it; have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them, undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate.”