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Introducing our new passenger carbon offsetting programme with ClimateCare

By: Dave Gunner

March 14, 2019

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve teamed up with climate and sustainable development experts ClimateCare to offer a world class carbon offsetting calculator for our passengers. 

I’m at the home of ClimateCare to learn all about our new carbon offsetting calculator which launches today, and to talk to our sustainability specialist Kathryn Asplin and the director of partnerships at ClimateCare, Rob Stevens. We’re in a meeting room in an office in Oxford, and on the table are a couple of small cooking stoves. In themselves they don’t look overly impressive, but their story certainly is.

Rob and Kathryn checking out the cooking stoves

Change is in the Air – our sustainability programme.

Before we look at the stoves, let’s talk about travel. We love what we do: connecting people, enabling commerce, allowing you to explore the world. So much good comes from travel and connecting people but we also know this comes with big environmental responsibilities. For us, being fuel and carbon efficient is our number one environmental priority. We’re continuing our massive fleet renewal programme, investing in aircraft that are around 30% more fuel efficient per trip than the aircraft they replace. And we’re looking to future fuel solutions too, working with cleantech company LanzaTech who make low carbon fuels by recycling carbon from industrial waste gases.

We’re incredibly proud to have won several important sustainable travel awards and we’re delighted to be recognised for environmental leadership by CDP – an organisation that rigorously and independently assesses businesses’ sustainability performance. Our mark of A- puts us among only 3 airline and travel operators to get this leadership score in 2018.

What is Carbon Offsetting?

We know many of our customers share our commitment to responsible travel and will want to reduce the carbon footprint of their journeys. Carbon offsetting is your opportunity to do that. To offset your flight, you pay a small amount to  carbon reduction  projects, to  reduce emissions equivalent to those generated by your travels. You can offset all or part of your flight along with other options like car mileage and energy use. And we’re not expecting just you to do all the offsetting. The aviation industry is developing its own offsetting and carbon reduction scheme called CORSIA which will come into full effect in 2020.

Where does your money go?

Today’s best carbon offset projects are the ones that not only have a big carbon reduction impact but also benefit communities, and that’s where ClimateCare comes in. They’re a brilliant example of this thinking and have a range of projects that deliver a wide range of benefits – and some of those projects involve efficient cooking stoves.

Nearly 3 billion people in the developing world still cook food and heat their homes using open fires. These are inefficient and dangerous. The household pollution caused by these open fires is responsible for at least 4.3 million premature deaths a year, more than malaria and tuberculosis combined.

Your offsetting money is used to purchase independently verified carbon reductions from projects that distribute these small but very cleverly designed stoves. They require just a tiny amount of wood or charcoal to cook, emit very little smoke or pollutants and are 50% quicker to cook with. The efficient designs manage to be simple and clever at the same time, with truly life changing results.

In what Climate Care are calling a quadruple whammy, or using the same money four times, this is how the stoves  work their magic:

  • They save up to £180 a year on reduced fuel bills –– a huge amount of money for many families.
  • They reduce the need for large quantities of charcoal. Production of charcoal involves deforestation and adds a lot of carbon to the atmosphere. Each stove reduces greenhouse gasses by up to 1.4 tonnes per oven per year. With over half a million stoves already distributed that’s a lot of carbon saved.
  • They bring industry and jobs to different regions and are a scalable business. In one factory, over half the employees are women, with many working in engineering and design. The factories that produce these stoves indirectly employ many more people in their supply chains.
  • They reduce indoor air pollution, which is the biggest killer in the developing world.

Find out about the other carbon reduction projects on the ClimateCare site.

Find out how offsetting your carbon emissions through the Gyapa Project - run on the ground by NGO Relief International - will improve the lives of people in Ghana as well as helping to tackle climate change.

Who are ClimateCare?

In our search for a new carbon offsetting partner we looked high and low to find a company that reflected our values. They needed to offer a gold standard offsetting programme  and one that we could confidently recommend to our customers. ClimateCare stood out for their deep knowledge of offsetting projects, and for their solid business and finance background. We know we can trust ClimateCare. They’ve done all the thinking, have the latest information to hand and bring verifiable projects that are easy to implement.

And ClimateCare are the highest ranked B-Corp in the UK. B-Corp is a ranking of companies that balance profit with purpose and consider the impact of what they do on their suppliers, employees, customers and the environment. There are only 2,500 companies in the world who are accredited. It’s an exclusive club of true innovators and we’re incredibly excited to be working with one of its leading lights. The result? So far ClimateCare have cut over 33 million tonnes of CO₂ and improved quality of life for more than 34 million people around the world.

Bringing industry and jobs to the regions

How do you offset your travel?

We’ve made offsetting really easy. A calculator helps you work out the cost of offsetting your whole trip, or you can choose to make a contribution to our carbon reduction programme. The calculator also lets you explore other aspects of your life that have an impact on the environment.

The fact is we all have a responsibility to think about the effects of our actions. Carbon offsetting is rapidly becoming an integral part of travel budgeting, as much as hotels and car hire or spending money. So many things claim to be changing the world, and these little stoves are doing just that. Change really is in the air.

Visit our calculator now to find out more about offseting your flight

 

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Dave Gunner

Dave is the co-editor of Ruby, the Virgin Atlantic Blog. He has worked at Virgin Atlantic for over two decades. In that time he has amassed some truly epic memories but never lost his fascination with the airline world. Dave's on a mission to bring you some great insights into our people, planes and planet.