Earlier this year, before any travel restrictions were in place and virtual conferences became the norm, I was curious about carbon offset costs. With all of the discussion lately about climate change and how air travel produces a lot of carbon, I wanted to know: first, how much carbon does my flight to Minneapolis produce (to attend the now-cancelled MMS conference) and, second, how much does the carbon offset cost for this trip. I figured that the carbon offset cost would be hundreds of dollars, if not more, to the point where the offset cost was more than the flight itself. I decided to do some research and, if necessary, some number crunching. Turns out that my original guess was wrong. I wasn’t even close!
At first, when I started to look into this, I found out that a company called Less was partnered with Air Canada. Months earlier, again, before travel restrictions were in place, I booked a flight on Air Canada, so I was happy to see that this partnership allowed individuals (like me) to offset their carbon emissions. I looked into the cost, and let me tell you that I was surprised with what I read.
Carbon Offset Cost
The round trip cost from Ottawa to Minneapolis, in order for me to attend MMSMOA, was only $12.77 CAD. WOW, that isn’t a lot of money at all! It’s not even the cost of lunch.
In the above screenshot, you can see a few things. First, the distance of the flight from Ottawa to Minneapolis is 1,376.7 km. Second, the total emissions are just over half-a-ton of carbon. Next, you can see that there are two different standards to pick from. BUT, at $12.77 CAD for the MOST expensive standard (developed by the UN and endorsed by the World Wildlife Fund), this was a no-brainer! Needlessly-to-say, I went ahead and purchased the pricier one.
I was feeling environmentally-aware that day, so I also purchased carbon offsets for trips I took in late 2019 and for what I thought would be upcoming trips in 2020: MMS Jazz (November 2019), my holidays (November 2019), the MVP Summit in Seattle (March 2020) and MMSMOA (May 2020). At the end of the day, I paid just over $100 CAD! As we all now know, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the MVP Summit became a virtual conference and MMSMOA was pushed back to July and then later cancelled. As it stands now, I have two credits for my cancelled flights. One for the MVP Summit and one for MMSMOA. With any luck, I will be able to use these credits for MMS Midway, MMSMOA 2021, or MMS 2021 Miami Beach!
What is a Carbon Offset?
What does a carbon offset really mean? In a nutshell, it means that one person is reducing their carbon production, so that someone else can use it. The overall effect is a net zero gain. The CBC published an article last year called, Carbon offsets: Worth buying to fight climate change? Let me tell you that this article is well worth the time it takes to read. Also, check out the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section on Less’ website.
In case you’re interested, like I was, in reading more about the projects that Less supports, make sure to check out this page on their website. The projects they support change over time, but you can find their current projects and standards listed there.
Just out of curiosity, I wanted to see what happens when you don’t select, “Offset high-altitude impacts.” In this case, it cut the carbon emissions in half. What is high-altitude impacts? Check out the FAQ section under Air Travel on Less’ website.
After reading-up about carbon offsets, I don’t remember ever being given an option to offset the carbon anywhere when booking a trip. IMO, I think more people would offset the carbon, if they saw how cheap it really is. This would help fund even more projects, that at least offset carbon, and ultimately reduce the world’s carbon footprint. You can see that even big companies, like Microsoft, are looking at their carbon footprint and smaller companies are doing the same. We (Enhansoft Inc.) are going to do our best to reduce our carbon footprint where we can. These are our first steps into making this happen, but not our last. If you have questions about this post, please feel free to contact me @GarthMJ.