Wed 7 Nov 2007 – Virgin Atlantic has launched what it claims to be the first ever onboard carbon offset scheme. The airline has partnered with Swiss-based charity myclimate to offer a Gold Standard Carbon Offset Scheme which is now available to passengers inflight as well as online.
Endorsed by 49 NGOs worldwide, including many environmental groups, Gold Standard credits are independently validated and support only renewable energy or energy-efficient technologies, so excluding, for example, tree planting or gas flaring.
The scheme aims to benefit projects in India and Indonesia and the airline says its commitment is based on a belief that Gold Standard projects are the only offset standard that guarantees a positive additional impact on local communities and the environment.
Virgin Atlantic says it has calculated exactly how much carbon is produced for each of its flights from data taken from all its 2006 flights and had its figures verified through greenhouse gas verification company CICS. The airline then calculated how much this would equate to for each passenger by taking into account the different weights of equipment and seats in each class of travel, and also the amount of cargo on each route. So Upper Class passengers pay more than Premium economy and Economy passengers because their seat and inflight entertainment monitors are significantly heavier. Taking a flight from Heathrow to Boston as an example, Virgin has worked out that the emissions per Economy passenger are 0.55 CO2 tonnes, compared with 0.62 tonnes per Premium Economy passenger and 0.95 tonnes incurred by the Upper Class passenger. The cost to the passenger of the offset is £5.22 (around US$10), £5.85 and £9.07 respectively.
In addition to buying carbon offsets onboard, passengers can purchase them on the airline website when they book their tickets or at any time they choose at www.virginatlantic.com/offset.
“The Gold Standard Foundation commends Virgin Atlantic’s stringent and sincere climate programme,” said the Foundation’s Marketing Director, Jasmine Hyman. “From cradle to grave, the Virgin Atlantic approach adheres to rigorous environmental standards and a strong commitment to sustainable development.”
One of the projects is based in India, with the money going towards supporting a power plant that runs on farming waste, such as sugar cane husks, turning them into electricity for the local community. The other main project is funding the rebuilding of a hydropower plant in Indonesia, which will employ and provide new skills to the local community, as well as supplying them with a source of clean and reliable electricity.
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