Friday, 20 November 2009 17:44

Is Taking Away a Travel Option Really Progress?

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Recently, the travel agency Responsible Travel stopped providing their customers with the opportunity to offset their travel and apparently hasn't replaced their offering with anything to help individuals reduce their travel footprint. Responsible Travel had offered their customers the opportunity to offset their carbon emissions since 2002. The general argument for the company so far has been that the offsets the company provided did little to change customer behavior and limit travel. But what are customers taking away from Responsible Travel? What about individuals who have to travel for their livelihoods or work in travel and the like; will they realistically travel less? While it is a fact that flying to where we need to go is carbon intensive, many flights are not impulse buys. In order to travel plans need to be made: where will I stay? Who is going to take care of my pets? How will this trip fit into my budget? In short, most people aren't jetting around the world for no reason - they alter their lives (and submit themselves to airport security or weather delays) out of necessity for business, family and much needed vacations. So why not give people the opportunity to take responsibility for their carbon emissions? Responsible Travel's position on offsets is misguided because 1) they over-estimate people's ability to modify their travel arrangements and 2) appear to take the position that it's better not to do anything than to do something. The fact is that carbon offset projects can be validated to do what they're supposed to, which is reduce carbon emissions and therefore serve as an offset to one's own emissions. By supporting real, high quality certified and verified carbon offset projects we can take responsibility for our carbon footprint, which is real and needs to be addressed if we are to solve global warming.
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