HOW TO BUY CARBON OFFSETS
I think of offsets as part of my travel costs for a gig—somewhat equivalent to baggage fees or a taxi to the airport—and I usually ask promoters to cover the cost of offsets.
High quality offsets are currently about $13–$25 US per metric ton. Offsetting a round-trip flight from New York to Los Angeles, for instance, would cost $26 to $50 US.
There are lots of companies offering carbon offsets these days. Here’s what I look for:
Gold Standard certification. Gold Standard is an independent agency and is the highest available certification standard for offsets. UNESCO uses Gold Standard offsets, as do many other organizations and companies.
Impact. I look for offsets that help either the place I live, the place I’m traveling to, or a cause that I care about.
I live in Canada so I usually buy my offsets through www.less.ca. They offer Gold Standard offsets and VER+ Standard offsets (for projects in developed countries). They also have an easy-to-use calculator for flights. Enter your starting and ending airports and it will tell you how many tons you’ll emit and the price of offsets for that trip. Additionally, many airlines offer an offsets option when you purchase a flight.
You can also buy directly from Gold Standard: www.goldstandard.org/.
For driving: you can use this carbon emissions calculator from Natural Capital Partners to quickly calculate emissions (there is an option for flights too). If you want to do the calculations yourself for driving, multiply 0.00889 by the # of gallons of gas, or 0.01018 for diesel. (These numbers are from the EPA.) For instance: 200 gallons of gas x 0.00889 = 1.778 metric tons of CO2 to offset.
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