Continental Airlines has launched a carbon offsetting program, developed in partnership with non-profit Sustainable Travel International.The voluntary program allows customers worldwide to view the carbon footprint of their booked itinerary, which Sustainable Travel International calculates from fuel consumption of Continental’s aircraft, and to make a contribution to Sustainable Travel International.
Proceeds from customer contributions to Sustainable Travel International fund the purchase of carbon offsets, which are generated from high-impact sustainable development projects that are designed to reduce the impact of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. Sustainable Travel International provides carbon offset projects, located all over the world, which are independently verified or certified by third-party sources.
The carbon offsetting option is part of a company-wide commitment to environmental responsibility. The airline has achieved an almost 35 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption per mainline revenue passenger mile flown over the past 10 years. This is due in large part to the efforts of its employees in streamlining operational procedures and to an investment of more than $12 billion to acquire 270 fuel-efficient aircraft and related equipment.
“Having a high-profile, high-quality offset program available to Continental’s customers is a significant step for mainstreaming carbon offsetting in air travel,” explained Brian T. Mullis, President of Sustainable Travel International. “When combined with energy efficiency, greater use of renewable resources, waste reduction and thoughtful consumption, offsetting offers a solid strategy for addressing concerns associated with climate change.”
Customers who choose to participate in the carbon offsetting program may contribute to one of four project portfolios: Gold Standard emission reduction projects managed by MyClimate, which are renewable energy and energy efficiency projects validated, registered and verified following Clean Development Mechanism principles under the Kyoto Protocol; international reforestation projects that preserve and create critical forests and that are designed using the standards set forth by the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Alliance; U.S. Green-e certified renewable energy projects, such as wind farms; or a combination of these projects.
Customers may choose to contribute a suggested amount that is calculated based on the carbon emissions related to their itinerary, or they may choose to contribute a different amount toward the reduction of greenhouse gases.
The carbon offsetting calculator on continental.com can be accessed in one of four ways: from a link on the confirmation page after a customer has purchased a ticket; under Reservations > Change/View Existing Reservations for an existing itinerary; via the “My Account” section (requires a OnePass account and booked itinerary); or through the About Continental > Company Profile > Commitment to the Environment section. No ticket purchase is required to access the offsetting calculator via About Continental.
Moving forward, Continental plans to work with Sustainable Travel International to enhance the program to address environmental concerns and will continue to meet customers’ needs.
In addition to offering a carbon offset project for individual customers, Continental now has the ability to provide its contracted corporate customers the carbon emissions associated with their business travel with Continental.
Continental is committed to promoting environmental responsibility within its culture and to reducing its environmental impacts, and has been recognized numerous times for its commitment to environmental responsibility. The carrier has received two awards from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and two awards from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for environmental efforts. Additionally, in 2007, FORTUNE magazine named Continental as one of ten “Green Giants,” corporations whose environmental policies go beyond what is required.
In order to minimize the impact on the environment from its fleet and ground service equipment, Continental will continue to invest in the most effective technology and operating procedures feasible. In addition to the substantial reduction in emissions and fuel consumption from aircraft, Continental has reduced by approximately 75 percent nitrogen oxide emissions from ground equipment at the carrier’s largest hub, in Houston, through switching to electric ground service equipment and other new technology. This technology is now being tested for use in cold climates.
Through these investments and other projects, including the construction of airport facilities in an environmentally responsible manner, the testing of alternative fuels in ground service equipment, and an expansive recycling program, Continental will continue to manage the environmental impact of its business.