(james benedict brown) on the road

One a half tonnes…

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 8 February, 2006

Some time ago, National Express used to offer passengers who booked online the opportunity to pay a few extra pence to ‘carbon neutralise’ their journey. Public transport is, as you can imagine, already one of the environmentally lighter forms of transport. But this allowed passengers to donate to an organisation that would promise to plant enough trees to offset the calculated carbon impact of your journey. True, those particular trees would probably not chug the black smoke from your bus, but the overall environment would be helped and your conscience would be clean again.

Unfortunately, for reasons not know to us, National Express don’t offer this option any more. So it’s now up to you, lone traveller, to make sure you do your bit to compensate for your journey.

In Britain we love to bash people who drive big, thirsty 4×4 (SUV) trucks. These unnecessary vehicles are an easy target to bash… big must mean bad. The truth is somewhat different when you consider the rapid leaps forward made in the technology of a modern car engine. The real villains are harder to bash, because they’re not so easy to dismiss as a hierachical symbol of class.

In Europe, Easyjet, Ryanair et al have broken down the class barriers when it comes to air travel. In the last fifteen years, it’s been possible for anyone to afford a flight to the sun, or to a city that would be more expensive to reach by train. Stelios Haji-Iannou (founder of Easyjet) proclaimed that it would be cheaper to fly to Glasgow for the weekend than to buy a pair of jeans. Now it’s even cheaper than that.

And of course, the rampant anti-truck folk go quiet when this comes up. Because a 4×4 truck is an easy target. It symbolises wealth and class. But an £30 flight to Venice for the weekend… well that’s become your god given right. And consider this. The carbon released by such a weekend jaunt per passenger would be equivilent to driving one of those trucks non-stop for a year. And of course, 4×4 drivers get stung with roughly 80% tax on unleaded fuel at the pumps. Easyjet and Ryanair don’t pay a cent in tax on aviation fuel. So they pollute more and don’t pay the penalty.

Now comes the good bit. My flights from London to Montréal and back cost me £250. But they will have released almost one and a half tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for every passenger on board. With the technology offered by this website it costs just £10.87 to neutralise the damage.

So if you’re planning a trip, bookmark the webpage of your favourite cheap airline, and then bookmark that one. Don’t stop traveling, but don’t stop considering.


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