Holidaymakers urged to 'offset environmental cost' of flights

Carbon dioxide emissions from planes are a growing contributor to climate change and emissions from air travel can form a large part of the environmental impact of tourism.

Carbon offsetting enables airline passengers to donate money to schemes which reduce carbon emissions either in Britain or overseas.

The UK has decided to offset the carbon dioxide emissions arising from the G8 summit this year and Whitehall departments will be offsetting their air flights from April next year. The inclusion of aviation emissions within the EU emissions trading scheme is a priority for the UK presidency of the EU.

Elliot Morley, the Environment minister, said: "Flying has a significant environmental impact because of the distances covered and the amount of carbon dioxide emitted.

"There is also much scientific opinion which believes that emitting these gases at high altitude increases the climate change impact. For example, a return transatlantic flight can produce up to two tons of carbon dioxide per passenger.

"Obviously a great many things individuals do cause emissions, not all of which can be offset. However, I would ask travellers to consider whether, in addition to enjoying their holidays, they counter some of the environmental damage by subscribing to one of the offset schemes available.

"It's relatively cheap - for example, to offset the climate change impact of a flight to the Mediterranean only costs around £5 ."

Offsetting schemes are available from several companies, including Climate Care and Future Forests (www.climatecare.org and www.futureforests.com).

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