Carbon Neutral Backpacking

| June 21, 2009 | 0 Comments

windfarm Carbon Neutral Backpacking

Photo by Wayfinder_73 (Creative Commons)

With bands like Radiohead releasing carbon-neutral albums and a growing number of celebrities trumpeting their low-carbon lifestyles—I’m looking at you DiCaprio—one person might wonder how they all do it.

In fact, ‘carbon neutral’ was the Oxford American Dictionary’s “word of the year” in 2006.

So what’s a shoestring backpacker to do?

When we visit beautiful places it’s natural to want our holidays to have a positive impact on local people and their environments. Taken to its logical conclusion, the same could be said of global air travel. And, if you’ve taken a flight in the past year, you’ve put some major emissions into the environment. That being said, are you morally obligated to take them back out again?

One way of minimizing your impact is through carbon offsets.

As a backpacker and a future round-the-world vagabonder, I’ve been wondering about the concept of buying carbon offsets for air travel for some time because they are relevant to the planning stage of a trip. Today I googled up Iva Skoch’sCan you buy your way out of hell with carbon offset fees?”:

I loved the first paragraph of her piece:

Carbon offset fees work like penance in the Roman Catholic Church. They won’t exactly prevent you from committing certain sins, such as traveling by plane, but they might make you feel less guilty about committing them. At least that’s how they work on me.

Ultimately, we as travellers need to reconsider the means to our ends. Globally, the world needs a lot less carbon—by some accounts 50–80% less by 2050. So, it’s in all of our interests to take action.

In the short term, it really doesn’t matter who cuts carbon, who pays for those cuts, or who profits. If we’re going to rely on capitalism to go green, then we’ll need to create low-cost efficient markets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions worldwide.

As David Suzuki writes: “While voluntary offset programs should not be seen as a substitute for comprehensive government regulations to reduce greenhouse gases (eg through implementation of the Kyoto Protocol), they are a step in the right direction, and an opportunity to demonstrate leadership on climate change”.

Interested in purchasing carbon offsets? Check out Carbon Catalog. They are a directory of carbon offsets, listing and rating 101 offset providers and 402 projects worldwide.

So, would you consider carbon offsets on your next backpacking adventure? Let us know!


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About the Author ()

For nearly ten years now, Daniel of Two Go Round-The-World has explored how travel captures our imagination and engages our deepest emotions. One half of the duo that maintains the widely read Two Go Round-The-World blog, Daniel treats his subjects not only as works of art but also as symbols of the cultural and political forces that inspire them. His latest book, The Physics of Flocking, gathers his favourite writing featured over the past two years on Two Go Round-The-World in columns like 'Looking Back' and 'The Whole Picture'—along with new reflections.

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