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Compensation system

Why would I compensate?
All means of transport (bus, train, tram, car, boat, plane, ...) emit CO2. So every time you travel, CO2 is released into our atmosphere. CO2 is a greenhouse gas that is released when fossil fuels such as oil, gas or coal are burned. The more CO2 there is in the air, the warmer the earth becomes.

This warming will have and is already having multiple consequences at regional and global scales: changes in temperatures, an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, a decrease in certain resources such as water, and rising sea levels. If greenhouse gas emissions do not decrease significantly over the next few years, many areas could become uninhabitable. Global warming is inevitable, but we can still limit it by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.

According to a 2019 study by UNWTO (the World Tourism Organisation), transport related greenhouse gas emissions from tourism accounted for 5% of total anthropogenic emissions in 2016 and will increase to 5.3% by 2030.

In May 2018, researchers from the University of Sydney also published a study showing that the global impact of tourism is 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The study, published in Nature Climate Change, includes transportation, accommodation, food and shopping by travellers.

Offsetting your trip is a voluntary and concrete way of responding to your climate impact and CO2 emissions. By offsetting the CO2 emissions of your travels, you give us the opportunity to work with NGOs and people in developing countries on projects that prevent CO2 emissions, for sustainable socio-economic development. These projects would not exist without your support and without the CO2 compensation system. Many climate projects need your support. Projects proposed by Greentripper meet high requirements to ensure that your contribution really makes a difference.
How does CO2 compensation work?
CO2-compensation - or carbon offsetting - means that you will offset the CO2 emissions from your home, accommodation and travel (e.g. car, plane etc.) by contributing financially to a climate project in a developing country or an environmental project in Europe to finance a reduction in CO2 emissions equal to your CO2 emissions.

Greentripper guarantees, together with CO2logic, a Southpole company, that one tonne of CO2e offset corresponds to:
  • one tonne of CO2e that is reduced or avoided through a certified climate project in a developping country
  • or one tonne of CO2e that is sequestred in a sustainable project in Europe.
By offsetting the CO2 emissions from your trips, you give us the opportunity to work with NGOs and communities on projects that avoid CO2 emissions, for a sustainable socio-economic development.

To ensure that your contribution makes a real difference in favour of our climate, Greentripper only supports climate projects that meet the highest requirements.
Why we don’t speak of CO2 Neutral Travel anymore?
First, it is important to define carbon neutrality. Carbon neutrality is a scientific concept whose definition is given by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change): “The situation in which anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere are offset by anthropogenic removals over a given period”. It is therefore a balance between all human-caused emissions and negative emissions, i.e. what can be absorbed by human-managed carbon sinks (forests, soils) or by possible carbon capture and storage technologies.

For its part, ADEME encourages a long-term vision and daily action to contribute to the objective of territorial or global carbon neutrality. Individual organizations are neither, nor can they become, nor claim to be “carbon neutral”.

Greentripper has chosen to stop talking about CO2 neutrality for CO2 compensation for travel. We believe that the notion of “CO2 Neutrality” still makes sense in the sole context of a process of reducing CO2 e emissions beforehand. CO2 e compensation is used as a last resort for emissions that could not be avoided.

At Greentripper, we are not able to verify that the CO2 e emissions compensated by our travelers have been reduced initially (example: deciding to travel by train rather than by plane or canceling certain flights...). We are therefore talking about CO2 e compensation or contribution to climate projects.
What is a tonne of CO2?
Aircrafts, cars, and other means of transportation use energy to get to its destinations. This energy comes from the combustion of fossil fuels, releasing CO2 and other greenhouse gases, which contributes to climate change. To give you an idea, 1 tonne of CO2 is emitted by:
  • a one way trip from Brussels to New York in economy class
  • 6.000 km's by car
  • 336 non-vegetarian meals
A tonne of CO2 could be represented schematically by 1/5 of an Atomium ball or by a 200m3 hot air balloon.
Which greenhouse gases are taken into account when calculating the environmental impact of travel?
There are several types of greenhouse gases (not only carbon dioxide): we can transpose every type of greenhouse gas emission into CO2 equivalents. Bearing in mind that each greenhouse gas has a more or less significant global warming potential in relation to CO2, to determine the equivalence of a tonne of greenhouse gas in carbon credits, a specific coefficient has to be applied to the gas in question to convert the tonne into a tonne of CO2 equivalent. This makes it possible to compare the contribution of these different gases to global warming and to take account of them in efforts to reduce the impact of an organisation or product on the climate.

In the Greentripper calculator we take into account the different greenhouse gases (CO2, but also other greenhouse gases such as CH4 and N2O) which are converted into a CO2-equivalent. That is why we speak about CO2-equivalents and not CO2.

We also take into account radiative forcing which is caused by the condensation trails we see behind an aircraft in flight.
What is the radiative forcing (or high altitude effect) of air travel?
If we want to calculate the full impact of a plane trip, we have to take into account the greenhouse gases from the combustion of kerosene, but also other factors such as the condensation trails. These are the white lines formed by the condensation of the water vapour emitted by aircraft engines at very high altitudes. Independent scientists (Institut Bilan Carbone, ADEME) estimate that with radiative forcing, the impact of the plane’s greenhouse effect is multiplied by 2 compared to greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of kerosene alone.

The Carbon Neutrality Company says: "The analysis of information we have on the impact of aviation on the global climate system clearly shows that the impact on the climate goes beyond the simple effect of CO2 emissions. All the additional factors have an additional global warming effect. According to all the measurements developed to gauge the impact of aviation, we estimate that an approximate factor of 2 should be applied to the CO2 impact."
What is the difference of the CO2 equivalent of business class, first class and economy class for the offsetting of my flight?
Passengers travelling in first class and business class have more space, which means that fewer passengers can take the same plane. Consequently, more CO2 emissions are attributed to first class and business class passengers compared to economy class passengers.

This phenomenon is comparable to cars transporting 1 or 4 persons. Even if these 4 persons are heavier to transport, there is a scale effect which shows that the more passengers in a mode of transport, the fewer the CO2 emissions per passenger.
Why does a short-distance flight emit relatively more CO2 than a long-distance flight?
A plane burns an enormous amount of fuel on take-off and landing. Once airborne, the plane consumes far less per km or per mile travelled. That is why short-distance flights or flights with stopovers are more polluting per km. This means that the average emissions are significantly lower per km travelled for long-distance flights.