Trees help travel industry measure the cost of flying

Tree planting - championed by the successful Independent on Sunday "Forest" campaign as a way to offset emissions of greenhouse gases - has been embraced by the travel industry.

Tree planting - championed by the successful Independent on Sunday "Forest" campaign as a way to offset emissions of greenhouse gases - has been embraced by the travel industry.

Future Forests, the planting partner with whom we worked to create two forests, has linked up with a leading environmental travel organisation to reduce the travel trade's emissions of carbon dioxide. Both travel operators and tourists will be encouraged to buy trees to counter the carbon dioxide produced by travellers - particularly those who fly.

Airlines account for 3.5 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and a person making a return flight from London to Miami is responsible for as many emissions of carbon dioxide as the average British motorist does in a year.

The aviation industry has been criticised for not doing enough to reduce emission; airplane fuel has a tax-free status and is also exempt from the targets for emissions laid down at this year's Earth Summit at Kyoto.

Now, Future Forests has joined forces with Green Globe 21, which has been working since 1994 to make the travel and tourism industry more ecologically sustainable. If you are heading to the Olympics this month in Sydney, then five trees per passenger will offset the carbon dioxide produced during the journey there and back.

"We're trying to create an awareness of sustainable tourism," said Geoffrey Lipman, deputy chairman of Green Globe 21, which has lobbied travel groups at the World Travel Market at Earl's Court in London and is liaising with the World Travel and Tourism Council to persuade members to build a tree-planting scheme into their businesses.

"We're not saying people shouldn't fly but we should look at alternatives where possible," said Roger Higman of Friends of the Earth. "We also need an international aviation tax to encourage airlines to use more fuel efficient practices."

Dan Morrell, founder of Future Forests, said there were economic benefits. "If you have to spend £100 to offset your carbon emissions, then a bit of thinking could reduce your carbon output and reduce the number of trees you have to buy. It saves money."

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