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Fact Sheet: Carbon Offset

Carbon offsetting is a way for airline passengers and corporate customers to neutralize their proportion of an aircraft’s carbon emissions on a particular journey by investing in carbon reduction projects. Carbon offsetting can therefore be seen as an immediate, direct and pragmatic means to encourage action to limit climate change impacts, at least in the short-term.

  • Both individuals and corporations are increasingly aware of the need to reduce their carbon footprint
  • This is true for airlines as well. While the industry is constantly improving fuel efficiency, passengers and corporate customers also want the opportunity to offset their own emissions created by flying
  • Carbon offsets give passengers the opportunity to compensate for their emissions by paying someone to make an equivalent greenhouse gas saving
  • Passengers offset their share of a flight’s emissions by investing in carbon reduction projects that generate carbon credits
  • Carbon offsetting is entirely voluntary for passengers
  • Over 35 airlines run offset programs with different methodologies for calculating emissions and different criteria for offset projects
  • Pick up rates tend to be low when linked to third party offset providers
  • This has created the need for a high quality, credible and transparent offset program for airlines

IATA offset program

  • in late 2009 IATA launched an industry-wide Carbon Offset Program to meet this demand
  • IATA’s carbon offset program offers:
    • Greater clarity to passengers on where their money is going
    • Standard methodologies applying best practices for voluntary offsetting 
    • Single customer purchase transactions
    • Offset tracking
    • Investing in credible emission reduction projects
    • Independent verification by the Quality Assurance Standard (QAS)

Managing the IATA carbon offset program

  • CO2 emissions calculator is based on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) methodology
  • IATA identifies and ensures quality control of the CO2 offset projects, including
    • Arranging carbon credit purchase
    • Project selection
    • Provision of project information for marketing purposes
    • Management and provision of CO2 offset tracking
    • Familiarizing the airlines with carbon market mechanisms

December 2014

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