Greta Thunberg and 'Flight Shame' are fueling a carbon offset boom

11 Aug 2019 by T. Abington, M. Carr & W. Wilkes / Bloomberg News

The following is an excerpt from an article originally published on Bloomberg. Read more from the original, here.



High-profile climate activism is pushing more flyers than ever to try and assuage their carbon guilt.

Campaigning by climate activist Greta Thunberg and filmmaker-naturalist David Attenborough is persuading pollution-conscious fliers to try and mitigate the environmental damage caused by their flights.

Sales of so-called carbon offsets are soaring: Myclimate, a Swiss nonprofit whose clients include Deutsche Lufthansa AG, reported a five-fold uptake in its credits in a year. At Ryanair Holdings Plc, Europe's largest discount carrier, the number of customers making voluntary offset payments has almost doubled in 18 months.

This summer's heatwaves have boosted sales. Europe has seen rivers dry, temperature records fall and sporting events canceled in heat scientists blame on man-made global warming. The offsets may offer a salve to the emerging "flight shame" anti-flying movement spreading from Sweden, home of 16-year-old Thunberg, who recently said she's crossing the Atlantic by sailboat to attend a United Nations climate summit in New York.

Verra, the biggest program for voluntary credits globally, has seen the monthly retirement, or usage, rate for offsets jump about 23% this year to 3.8 million tons a month. When a credit is used, it's retired or cancelled. They aren't used again.

The option to offset air-travel emissions has become public discussion, said Anne Thiel, communications manager for Washington-based Verra. While media attention and European heatwaves may have boosted offsetting, the yearly increase may be due to a more general growing appreciation of the problem, she said.

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