We are delighted to announce the official launch of our partnership with charity The Converging World. Carbon offsetting is widely agreed to have many problems, and so we have been working closely together to bring travellers a muchbetter alternative. Finally, it is ready.

How does it work?

With the innovative carbon calculator you can accurately calculate the carbon footprint of your last journey, be it by plane, train, car, bus, boat, or even a combination of all of them. If you want to take action to counter balance your emissions, it will suggest a donation that you can make to TCW.

Donate instead of offset?

Donating to TCW brings carbon savings and social benefits above and beyond the traditional offsetting schemes available. Quite simply, your money goes further and works harder.

Read the details of how and why they are a ‘muchbetter’ alternative here.You might also want to read our Guide to Carbon Offsetting or about the Problems with Carbon Offsets.

The Converging World are now looking to build more partnerships with travel businesses interested in offering a much better alternative to carbon offsetting. To find out more, contact Tim Barker: timbarker@theconvergingworld.org

  1. Jacquie Whitt
    May 10, 2011

    Hi Alex et al,

    When I first started reading your article I actually got excited because I thought there was someone else out there who felt as I do about carbon offsets.

    But I’m disappointed that again we are asking people to open their wallets instead of pulling their plugs.

    Understand that I’m writing in hopes of garnering your support for a different kind of “carbon campaign”.

    I think as long as we continue to make people feel guilty for the impact of their travel, we are contributing to a confusing message. “Go and travel, but pay extra for doing it!”

    I think the message should be that we can’t “buy” our way out of the responsibility we have to minimize our individual impact on the planet, whether it be traveling or transporting oneself to work, or buying coffee in the corner cafe.

    I know carbon offsets is a huge business and I’m not suggesting we abandon our support for agencies & organizations who benefit. But let’s be open about it and call it what it is. A self-imposed feel-good tax, of sorts, designed to lessen our guilt.

    When are we going to stop feeling guilty about travel? We should take responsibility for our ecological choices all year round, not just when we travel.

    Adios Adventure Travel will ask our travelers to modify their behaviors while traveling. We’ll ask them to shorten showers or pick up trash along the way or partner with them to offer more efficient modes of transportation.

    I think we can do better than this. The only people who are able to participate are those who can “afford” the “feel-good” tax. But the responsibility is more than that and that’s where we should be focusing our efforts. It’s not the money that will ultimately fix the problems with overuse and impact. It’s the change in behaviors.

    I think we should stop asking for money and ask people to make actual changes to their behaviors. Ask them to walk, not drive, or ask them to actually do things that will lessen the impact.

    I wonder how you feel about this? I jumped up on a soapbox and really didn’t mean to, but it just happened. Thanks for listening.

  2. Alex
    May 11, 2011

    Hi Jacquie,

    A great point that very much needs debating more – we certainly did here before opting to support TCW.

    A’feel good’ tax or ‘guilt alleviation’? Yes definitely. We talk specifically about that in our guide to problems of offsets. It should be the last step after all measures have been taken to avoid and reduce emissions first. We provide resources to do this, and we state this clearly on our main page with the calculator.

    That said, we cannot deny that in their own right, many (not all) projects have a lot of positive impacts. It is perhaps the mis-leading packaging of them as ‘offsets’ that causes the most damage. This is why we feel ‘donations’ starts to move away from that message.

    What really makes TCW (a charity) stand apart is precisely because revenues are re-invested in carbon reduction initiatives in the UK to help communities reduce their carbon footprint and explore the potential of renewable energy in their area – Tackling the source of the problems as you rightly call for. You sadly can’t just ask people to make changes, you have to work with them and show them how. I have volunteered with the TCW from time to time and see the value in the work they do back in the UK. That is on top of providing green energy to 3rd world communities and investing in respected social development programs.

    So while on the surface asking people for money may seem to still miss the point, we believe this money is working much harder and more effectively to tackle problems than traditional offsets.

    Offsets are an effective global business precisely because many people WANT to alleviate their guilt. So if we can tap into that and provide more effective alternatives, surely that is much better than missing the opportunity to use that demand to create more meaningful change.

    That’s just my little soap box in return! What do you think?

    cheers

    Alex

  3. Tim (The Converging World)
    May 13, 2011

    Hi Guys,

    This is a common debate around offsetting (or its other guises) – someone I know recently described it as an unresolvable dichotomy. It certainly seems that way sometimes. How do we ensure people don’t just continue ‘business as usual behaviour while at the same time still enabling the vast numbers of developing-world renewable projects that the carbon markets do?

    Many people see offsetting as a transitional mechanism on the way to a full carbon tax. One that would really make people think twice about whether to take that flight. Until then I think we have to make assumptions that people are going to travel and take steps to ensure they do it as conscientiously as possible. Much Better Adventures is one company working towards this goal. Our hope is that the carbon calculator will enable this too by educating people on travel-related GHGs and allowing them to compare different modes of transport. I’d like to extend it in the future to show alternative modes of transport and the associated footprints whenever it is used. Saving carbon is, of course, one of our charitable objectives so we’d rather people did change their behaviour than donate to us. It’s like cutting out the middle-man!

    Ultimately, if someone decides to take a long-haul flight they are better off offsetting or donating than not at all. As Alex says, we need to ensure that this is the last resort after all other options have been explored.

    It is interesting how travel is really the only activity that people offset. I assume this is because it is seen as a non-essential luxury as well as being one of the most carbon-intensive things we do all year. Alongside travel, domestic energy is a huge contributor to personal carbon footprints so it’s one of the main areas in which TCW operate and behaviour change is a big part of this. Additionally, our work with young people tries to ensure that people have the knowledge to initiate that change at an early age.

    I think I’m trying to say that I agree with you both. Yes to behaviour change in the first instance but, as anyone who works in the sustainability sector will tell you, it’s a huge challenge. Failing that, we can use money from offsets or donations to do some good and save some carbon elsewhere in the world.

    I’m going to stop now as this is becoming an epic post but thanks for the discussion.

    Tim