Airline passengers will be able to offset their travel as they fly through a new scheme introduced by Virgin Atlantic.
The Gold Standard Carbon Offset Scheme is being run on board and online in partnership with Swiss charity myclimate to benefit projects in India and Indonesia.
The airline calculates exactly how much carbon is produced for each flight and has this verified through Greenhouse gas verification company, CICS.
Virgin then calculates how much this would equate to for each passenger by taking into account the different weights of equipment and seats in each class of travel, and also the amount of cargo on each route.
So Upper Class passengers pay more than those in Premium economy and Economy because their seat and in-flight entertainment monitors are significantly heavier.
In addition to buying offsets onboard, passengers can buy carbon offsets for their flights on the airline"s website at www.virginatlantic.com/offset.
Endorsed by 49 non-governmental organisations worldwide, including many environmental groups, Gold Standard credits are independently validated, adhere to best practice methodology and only support renewable energy or energy efficiency technologies - no tree planting or gas flaring, according to the airline.
Virgin Atlantic claims to be the only airline to commit to Gold Standard projects because it believes this is the only offset standard that guarantees a positive additional impact on the local communities and the environment.
One of the projects is based in India, with the money going towards supporting a power plant that runs on farming waste, such as sugar cane husks, turning them into electricity for the local community. The other main project is a hydropower plant in Indonesia, where the money is going towards rebuilding of the plant, which will employ and provide new skills to the local community, as well as providing a source of clean and reliable electricity for them.
The airline"s founder and president Sir Richard Branson said: "Virgin Atlantic is offering the world"s first ever scheme enabling passengers to offset their air travel during their flight.
"This effective carbon offsetting option is unique as it supports only Gold Standard projects. We hope our passengers will be keen to become members of our Gold Standard Mile High Offset Club."
The airline"s target is to improve its fuel efficiency by 30% by 2020.
by Phil Davies
Wednesday, November 7, 2007