Understanding Carbon Offsets

Air Travel & Climate

Companies and individuals are increasingly interested in calculating and minimizing their climate footprint. Although aviation emissions are small when compared to other sectors of the economy, air travel can contribute a significant proportion of an individual’s or a company’s climate footprint.

For example, the average European emits about 9 tons of CO2 equivalent per year. If a European takes one transatlantic round-trip economy flight, say from Frankfurt to New York, they will add about 1 metric ton of CO2 to their climate footprint. Aside from CO2 emissions, air travel also causes other warming effects. These effects can triple the total climate effects of air travel.

To estimate the full effect of aviation on climate change, it is necessary to account for CO2 as well as for all other, non-CO2 warming effects.

The information in this section of the website is closely based on the SEI Discussion Papers: Carbon Offsetting & Air Travel Part 1: CO2-Emissions Calculations, and Carbon Offsetting & Air Travel Part 2: Non-CO2 Emissions Calculations

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