Friday, September 4, 2009

GREEN LIVING: Staying Green On Your Holiday Flights‏

by Henry Ashworth

With media reports speculating on global warming, some holidaymakers might think twice about taking a flight to their favourite destination.

But now many airlines are offering to offset their CO2 emissions due to the speculation in the media that their activity could be contributing to global warming - by something called Carbon Trading.

Increasing numbers of airlines are now implementing a system of carbon trading and offer this as an option at the point of sale to their passengers - but many holidaymakers aren't sure quite what they are being offered, and the take-up has been quite low.

Carbon Trading is a way to reduce the common greenhouse gas emissions stemming from the use of various fossil fuels. There are six greenhouse gases in total. Offsets are measured using a metric ton system. A single offset signifies the removal of an entire ton of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gas. Several airlines offering the Carbon Trading service now show their passengers the estimated carbon pollution resulting from their flights.

Several airline companies are also enacting other measures to protect the environment. One popular procedure is to expand the general recycling procedures to encompass all materials, including paper, plastic, and aluminum. Some have launched their own programmes to contribute to environmental groups and their quest to clean up the world.

Other measures include programmes to encourage fuel conservation and efficient resource management. The airline fleets themselves are being modernised and prepared for optimum fuel efficiency. Just by changing daily procedure to incorporate these environmentally friendly activities, one airline reports saving the equivalent of more than 200 million gallons of fuel in a single year.

Airports are also changing their standard fuel trucks to carts. These devices are stationed at the gates for the craft. There is a subsystem of hydrants connecting the carts throughout the airport. This eliminates further pollution that once came from the trucks.

There is some question to the validity of this attempt since the airline industry accounts for only around 2 percent of the greenhouse gases. The shipping industry accounts for 5 percent. Experts state much of the attention falls upon the airline industry due to the amount of travel a consumer does individually.

Europe has reported the system of offsetting as successful with hundreds of millions of tons eliminated. The EU agrees upon where the credits are most needed before relinquishing. Their first report covered thousands of companies and amounted to around half of all carbon and related emissions throughout Europe.

Experts agree that carbon prices will remain significant elements in the fight against pollution. The measures are believed to encourage more companies to adapt new technologies and replace outdated or less efficient materials. These procedures are not without problems or opponents.

The current cost of fuel have taken a toll on the programme. Soaring prices have forced many plants to switch from natural gas to coal. The current estimates state that gas prices need to fall or carbon prices to go up to retain their effectiveness.

There are critics to the process of carbon offsetting as a means of protecting the environment. Many have pointed out that the current time frame extends only through to 2012. The brevity of the outlook presents a difficult situation for realistic corporate long term commitments.

The scheme of trading emissions is a practice designed by governments. It is believed that far more details should have been considered before implementing the actual strategies, as the current global fuel and economy issues have already hindered its success, and the recession might have had a bigger impact on the number of flights taken as families consider whether to take holidays that need a flight or stay closer to home.

Tribune produce a series of European holiday guides, including one for Cyprus at

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