Friday, December 2, 2011

Why I carbon offset my last personal flight and why it should not have been a choice

I took some personal flights over the last (Thanksgiving) weekend and I just got around to doing my carbon offsetting through MyClimate

I don't think I should have had to choose to do this or make additional effort to do so. Fuel taxes should be higher to ensure that the full cost to humanity is integrated into the price of the ticket. At the moment, when I fly, I pay for the ticket which includes the cost of the fuel. But the pollution has a cost for more people which I am not paying for. The pollution I am causing is resulting in floods, droughts, crop failure, lost work days, increased sickness and many other bad things for other people. They are paying for a part of my flight and most of them live far more difficult lives than I do. (So, thank you for subsidising my flight - I appreciate it.) 

Just as for driving, fuel prices should reflect the full cost to humanity. It is true that the price would be higher if I had to pay the full cost and I would not fly so often. But that is part of the point - pollution would go down as I choose to take only more essential flights that I think are really worth it. I would still have the option to fly but I would have to value it highly enough to justify some negative impacts on other people. In addition, the increased taxes should go towards footing the bill for climate change in the poorest countries which are most effected and towards schemes to reduce climate change - call it 'offsetting' if you will.

Here is a nice video of the full effects of fuel for cars:

I don't think doing this offsetting should be my choice - I think it should be integrated into the ticket prices for everyone. As this article says "the big problem with voluntary donations is that they do not encourage airlines to demand cleaner planes or fly cleaner routes" (article in French-HT: KG). But till then it would be nice if airline companies made it easy to do this. Unfortunately, BA did not seem to make it obviously easy for me whilst purchasing tickets or on board but at least they did not pretend to, unlike some awful competitors. I think that is a pity.