The Post

Kiwis’ carbon offset shame

- John Anthony

Air New Zealand is boasting that the number of customers paying to offset its carbon footprint has increased by a third, however, it’s offsetting less than 1.5 per cent of the airline’s total carbon emissions.

Last week the national carrier said 35 per cent more customers chose to offset the carbon impact of their flights in the 2019 financial year compared to the previous year.

It said customers offset nearly 175,000 trips or 50,000 tonnes of carbon, which equates to 1.4 per cent of the more than 3.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide Air New Zealand emits into the atmosphere every year.

The airline’s New Zealand customers offset only about 5 per cent of journeys booked online while those based in the United Kingdom were more than twice as likely to offset the carbon impact of their flights.

Aviation contribute­s about 2 per cent of total global CO2 equivalent emissions. Air New Zealand has a voluntary offset scheme where passengers buy carbon credits to offset its flights through its FlyNeutral programme.

The emissions for each flight are divided among the passenger seats on that flight. Each passenger can pay to offset the emissions caused by their share of the flight’s emissions.

A carbon credit represents one tonne of carbon emissions reduced. The current price is $22.66 per tonne of carbon.

The credits help fund emission reductions both in New Zealand and countries across Air New Zealand’s destinatio­n network.

Air New Zealand is one of the country’s largest climate polluters, contributi­ng to the equivalent of about 4 per cent of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

It offsets its domestic emissions through New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme and in 2019 it will purchase and surrender emission units for 100 per cent of its domestic footprint.

Aviation consultant Irene King said that was one of the reasons New Zealand customers were unlikely to offset their carbon emissions when flying domestical­ly. They knew Air NZ was already paying to offset them through the ETS.

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