Alright, I did it! I booked a flight to Japan because of a job interview (they didn't want to do it over skype because I should get to know the company). I couldn't pass the chance for something I always wanted to do, so against my own moral judgement I'm going to Japan for 2 weeks in August. However, since I'll be adding an enormous load of CO2 and other gasses into the air, I want to find a sustainable and ethical way to compensate for this. Let me take you with me in this quest, so maybe you can use the info too!
~reminder, NOT flying is ALWAYS better than compensating! ~
Nowadays, many airlines offer flight compensation. However, I'm not to keen on compensating through an airline company since I don't trust them too much and I think they probably go for the easy options. So I decided to arrange my own compensation, starting with finding out how polluting my trip would be.
1. Calculating emissions
I read about flight pollution. Flying is not just about adding CO2 to the atmosphere. Science has pointed out that there are many more detrimental effects of flyings, the biggest ones according to Atmosfair are "The CO₂ as a direct by-product of combustion, the formation of cirrostratus clouds and/or contrails (linear clouds), the formation of the greenhouse gas ozone in a sensitive level of the atmosphere, and the cooling effect of methane decomposition". If you want to know more about this, then check out their page https://www.atmosfair.de/en/air_travel_and_climate/flugverkehr_und_klima/climate_impact_air_traffic/ The table can be a bit confusing, but it shows that for example ozone formation because of flying is almost as polluting as the CO2 (80% effects of the same amount of CO2). The effects of flights on climate change are usually much higher than only shown through the CO2 values. Therefore I also don't trust big aviation companies, since they probably don't take this fully into account.
Then, there is another very useful tool which can be found on the atmosfair website, namely the airline index (https://www.atmosfair.de/en/air_travel_and_climate/atmosfair_airline_index/). If you click on the latest document, you can see how well the airline you're flying with scores. I'm rather dissapointed and I should have checked this before I booked, since my airline is in category D, which is not very good. When scanning through this document (tip: use ctrl+f) keep in mind that the airline scores differently for different distances. I would recommend you to definitely check out this website before you book a flight! oops..
The third tool, from the same website, is the flight emission calculator https://www.atmosfair.de/en/offset/flight. Of course, they can't take into account everything like the weather on that day, or the amount of luggage etc etc., but at least you can get a good idea about how much you should compensate. In my case, and I'm afraid to admit it, I have to compensate for 5515 kg of CO2, which costs me 128 euros. They also show a comparison to other emissions, which is quite shocking. The average per capita emission in India in one full year for example is 1600 kg CO2 and the total amount of emissons I could spend in one year to retain a healthy climate is 2300 kg, which is less than half of what I am emitting through going to Japan for two weeks... and I'm not even talking about my other ways of emitting CO2 now.. (like electricity use, food, garbage etc). So yeah, I feel terrible, but at least I can do a little bit to compensate for it now.
2. Finding compensation
So, let's focus on something positive: how can I reduce my gigantic amount of global warming contribution? I have googled with the terms ethical and sustainable CO2 compensation since not every compensation scheme is a good one. A while ago for example, I watched a zembla episode (https://zembla.bnnvara.nl/nieuws/het-co2-alibi it is in Dutch, sorry) which talked about CO2 compensation through planting trees on other peoples land in Uganda, a terrible thing. After my search I found three websites that seem good to me: https://climatecare.org/projects/ (a certified B corporation), https://greenseat.nl/ (which is gold standard certified) and https://www.atmosfair.de/en/climate-protection-projects/ (which is also gold standard certified). Compensating through atmosfair is easy, since you can just use the calculation tool, and then click continue which will give you the option of choosing projects followed by a payment.
If compensating thorugh Greenseat you can do the same, however, they will give you a much lower price (for me around 17 euros) and I think this is because they only count the CO2 emissions and also don't take into account what type of plane you use. So I would prefer atmosfair over greenseat because they seem to be more inclusive about all the other ways of airpollution.
Climatecare also has some great projects. Through their calculator tool https://climatecare.org/calculator/ you can do the same as with the other two options. This calculator gives me a price of 23 pounds, which is higher than Greenseat, but much lower than atmosfair. You can check the option of compensating for 10% more, but this is still a lot less than 128 euros. Therefore I am more prone to compensate through atmosfair since I believe they are a trustworthy organisation and try to really compensate for everything, even though it is much more expensive. However, I do still think the other organisations are also good!
Well, now I'm going to sleep on it for a night and ask a friend of mine who recently compensated for his flights for some recommendations and then, when I get my internship compensation I will start compensating! I feel a bit better now since I now that I can partly reduce my emissions :). Of course, I'm not a business person who flies a couple of times per year/week/month, but even my emissions matter and every small step of reducing them helps!
Let me know if I was of any help to you and if you have any additional tips/recommendations, also leave a comment :).