For the first time ever, air passengers will be able to offset their travel during a flight as Virgin Atlantic introduces a Gold Standard Carbon Offset Scheme. The airline has partnered with myclimate to offer the scheme which is now available onboard and online, and will benefit projects in India and Indonesia.
Endorsed by 49 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) worldwide including many environmental groups, Gold Standard credits are independently validated, adhere to best practice methodology and only support renewable energy or energy efficiency technologies (no tree planting or gas flaring).
Virgin Atlantic is the only airline to commit to Gold Standard projects because it believes that this is the only offset standard that guarantees a positive additional impact on the local communities and the environment.
Virgin Atlantic has also calculated exactly how much carbon is produced for each of its flights and had this verified through Greenhouse gas verification company, CICS. The airline then calculated how much this would equate to for each passenger by taking into account the different weights of equipment and seats in each class of travel, and also the amount of cargo on each route. So Upper Class passengers pay more than Premium economy and Economy passengers because their seat and Inflight Entertainment monitors are significantly heavier.
Sir Richard Branson, President of Virgin Atlantic commented:
“Virgin Atlantic is offering the world’s first ever scheme enabling passengers to offset their air travel during their flight. This effective carbon offsetting option is unique as it supports only Gold Standard projects. We hope our passengers will be keen to become members of our Gold Standard Mile High Offset Club!”
myclimate are a Swiss based charity, whose vision is to find innovative solutions to climate change and to promote clean energy solutions particularly in developing countries.
One of the projects is based in India, with the money going towards supporting a power plant that runs on farming waste, such as sugar cane husks, turning them into electricity for the local community. The other main project is a hydropower plant in Indonesia, where the money is going towards rebuilding of the plant, which will employ and provide new skills to the local community, as well as providing a source of clean and reliable electricity for them.
In addition to buying offsets onboard, passengers can buy carbon offsets for their flights on the airline website when they book their tickets or any time they choose, at www.virginatlantic.com/offset.
Jasmine Hyman, Marketing Director of the Gold Standard added:
“The Gold Standard Foundation commends Virgin Atlantic’s stringent and sincere
climate programme. From cradle to grave, the Virgin Atlantic approach adheres to rigorous environmental standards and a strong commitment to sustainable development”
Virgin Atlantic’s key focus is to reduce its emissions and work towards becoming the most sustainable airline in the skies. This can be seen from its commitment to the largest European order of Boeing 787 Dreamliners which are 27% more fuel efficient than the planes they will replace, and its commitment to the first commercial airline demonstration of flying with biofuels next year. The airline is also ensuring that its planes carry no extraneous weight, and its pilots fly them efficiently, to help reduce emissions further. It is also investigating various schemes to reduce its emissions on the ground, both from its planes and from its ground-based activities. The airline’s target is to improve it’s fuel efficiency by 30% by 2020.