San Diego International seeks interested parties for its expanding carbon offset air traveller programme
Thu 23 Feb 2017 – San Diego International Airport has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) from parties interested in the supply of carbon offsets and the operation of its The Good Traveler programme. Launched in September 2015, the programme had offset around 11.5 million air miles by December 2016 as a result of passengers purchasing credits for offsetting the carbon emissions of their trips. Travellers can either purchase credits from The Good Traveler website or from retail outlets and works on a simple basis of a payment of $2 for every 1,000 miles flown. The programme has now been taken up by Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and the Port of Seattle, which operates Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and is looking to extend its reach to the corporate and events markets.
The traveller can work out the distance from a link to a distance calculator tool on The Good Traveler website and then buys certified carbon offsets on a $2 per 1,000 miles of flying basis. The programme works on the basis that 1,000 miles of flying is equivalent to 344 pounds of CO2e emissions per passenger. As an example, a round trip between San Diego and New York comes out at just over 4,800 miles (or 4,200 nautical miles) in air distance, so the traveller would select and buy five offsets totalling $10.
Online purchasers can choose whether to support US wind farm, forestry and water projects or deforestation and degradation projects in Zambia and the Congo, with 100% of funds going to the offset providers. The US projects, managed by TerraPass, are the Arcata Community Forest in Northern California (verified carbon offsets through the Climate Action Reserve’s Forest Project Protocol), the Big Smile Wind Farm in Oklahoma (verified through the Verified Carbon Standard) and the Colorado Delta Base Flow Restoration project, which generates BEF Water Restoration Certificates (each WRC represents 1,000 gallons of restored water).
The two African projects are Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation VCS projects funded by Vancouver-based NatureBank. Located in the western reaches of the second largest rainforest in the world (the Congo Basin), the Mai Ndombe project protects approximately 299,645 hectares of forest from complete loss of forest cover while providing infrastructure and land use services to local communities. WWF is one of the stakeholders. The Rufansa Conservancy project protects both highly threatened wildlife and deforestation in an area between Zambia’s capital and the Lower Zambezi National Park.
The Good Traveler programme was used by industry association Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) to offset the travel of 595 attendees to a conference. It was estimated 270 tons of CO2e were generated in total and the cost of offsetting this was $2,000, less than $4 per attendee. ACI-NA has made a commitment to offsetting attendance travel within its Sustainable Conferencing Guidelines.
By working together, the three airports say they hope to create an industry-leading, sustainable travel experience for passengers and optimise the programme’s buying power in terms of offsets.
“The Good Traveler is a key component of San Diego International Airport’s sustainability strategy,” said Brendan Reed, the airport’s Director of Environmental Affairs. “With every mile we offset, we’re making a tangible contribution to the fight against climate change.”
Added Stephanie Bowman, Port of Seattle Commissioner: “Passengers can be personally involved in reducing their carbon footprint through an easy-to-use, intuitive offsetting programme designed specifically for air travellers.”
Bids under the RFP close on March 13 and a pre-bid meeting is being held on February 27. Details here.