major_clanger: Clangers (Royal Mail stamp) (Default)
So, if I do find myself with good reason for flying, is there anything I can do to offset the resulting CO2? Offset schemes have had a bad press lately, and often with good reason; all to many of them are ineffectual, be it though inappropriate measures, multiple counting of carbon credits, or offset against reduction measures that would have happened anyway. Nonetheless, there are ways to accredit offset schemes and having done some research it seems that CDM Gold Standard is reasonably credible; it is endorsed by major environmental NGOs and seems to use sensible appraisal criteria.

Looking at the CDM-approved projects, it seems that an appropriate one for someone in the UK seeking to offset carbon use is ClimateCare, which helpfully both gives calculators for specific sorts of emissions or, if you know the details of the CO2 offset you want, lets you buy it directly by tonne.

Even so, there is considerable uncertainty as to exactly how much of even a credible offset you should make. Air travel in particular is subject to a lot of unknowns, and I've seen estimates of the appropriate forcing factor of around 4 (i.e a tonne of CO2 emitted by an aircraft has the warming effect of 4 tonnes emitted at ground level). It therefore seems to make sense to me to err on the side of caution and apply a factor of 4 multiplier for offsetting aircraft flights. And, of course, offsetting should take second place to simply not generating the emission at all. Even credible offsets should be seen as compensatory measures for justifiable emission, not a method of buying an indulgence for something I would not otherwise have done.

So, I am thinking of setting a personal policy on these lines:

1) Decide if my journey is really necessary, as defined by my own standards (which I will say are mine, and I do not expect them to be the same as anyone else's, nor that they should be seen in any way as a benchmark). Factors include whether it is for work, for wider benefit, or just for my own purposes, and what the total CO2 output involved will be.

2) Use a reputable CDM Gold Standard offset, applying a multiplier of 4 for aircraft emission offsets. This will at current prices add around £80 to the cost of a return air fare to the US - not, given factor (1), that I expect to make many of those for the time being.

3) Do an annual offset of my approx 4 tonnes of personal CO2 emission arising from personal energy consumption and local travel. This will cost about £40 per year.
major_clanger: Clangers (Royal Mail stamp) (Small Clanger)
Getting two of us from Edinburgh to Walsall for Novacon:

By air: circa £120 (air fares and taxis), 3 hrs.

By car: circa £120 (petrol and running costs), 6 hrs.

By rail: circa £200, 6 hrs.

And that is booking ten weeks in advance.

According to the Guardian's carbon-offset website, flying would generate 240 kg of carbon dioxide, which would cost £1.77 to offset. Driving would generate 210 kg, costing £1.58 to offset. No data for trains.

EDIT: Or we could give the GoH a lift and split the costs!

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major_clanger: Clangers (Royal Mail stamp) (Default)
Simon Bradshaw

June 2017

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