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Online Travel Services Offer Carbon Offsets with Trip Purchase (updated)

29 August 2006

Online travel services Travelocity and Expedia both have begun allowing customers to purchase carbon offsets when they buy travel. Airline travel currently accounts for about 13% of U.S.-transportation-based emissions of carbon dioxide.

Travelocity is working in conjunction with the Go Zero program of The Conservation Fund, and offers carbon offsets to anyone buying a vacation package (flight + hotel + rental car). Expedia is working with TerraPass (earlier post) and offers the offsets to anyone purchase a plane ticket.

Travelocity. The carbon offsets in the Go Zero program are offered as an option that customers can add during check-out when booking a vacation package on Travelocity. A contribution of $10 offsets an average trip including air travel, a one-night hotel stay, and rental car for one person; $25 negates air travel, four-night hotel stay, and rental car for two people; and $40 equalizes the effects of air travel, four-night hotel stay, and rental car for four people.

Travelocity will give all proceeds to The Conservation Fund, which in turn plants trees as its mitigation activity. Travelocity is also providing a link to The Conservation Fund web site, where donations can be made independent of any travel purchase. Go Zero purchases are fully tax deductible. Details can be found at www.travelocity.com/gozero.

Travelocity has also purchased carbon offsets for its own North American employee travel with a donation to the Go Zero program. The first grove of Travelocity trees will be planted in the Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge, which is located 45 miles north of New Orleans, LA.

These permanently protected lands provide important wildlife habitat for migratory birds including the Prothonotary and Swainson’s Warblers, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and White-eyed Vireo. The Refuge is also a top destination for travelers offering extraordinary opportunities for canoeing and kayaking, hiking, fishing and wildlife watching.

We are excited about this creative partnership with Travelocity and The Conservation Fund that will augment our terrestrial carbon sequestration program. Travelocity customers will help address global climate change by reforesting one of the south’s most beautiful wetlands, and will enhance Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge for future generations of outdoor enthusiasts.

—Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service

Expedia. Expedia travelers can now pay a small fee to sponsor a measured, verified reduction in greenhouse gas emissions directly proportional to the emissions created by their plane flight. TerraPass funds domestic clean energy projects, such as wind farms, methane capture plants on American dairies, and the retirement of carbon offsets on the Chicago Climate Exchange.

The voluntary market for greenhouse gas reductions has tremendous potential and this is an innovative initiative enabling consumers to reduce their greenhouse gas impact. It is a market we want to support and help to develop by providing certainty for consumers through our verification process.

—Lars Kvale, Center for Resource Solutions

Expedia.com travelers can choose from three levels of TerraPass to purchase during the process of booking a flight or package, or as a standalone component on Expedia’s Activities page (http://www.expedia.com/activities). Prior to checkout, Expedia customers will be offered a chance to purchase a TerraPass that funds enough clean energy to balance out the CO2 emissions caused by their flights.

For example, a typical flight from New York to Los Angeles creates about 2,000 lbs. per passenger of carbon dioxide. Pricing starts at $5.99 to offset about 1,000 lbs of CO2, the approximate amount per passenger emitted by a 2,200 mile round-trip flight. A TerraPass to cover cross-country and international flights is $16.99 for up to 6,500 flight miles, and $29.99 for up to 13,000 flight miles.

Travelers who purchase a TerraPass for cross-country or international flights will receive a luggage tag that indicates their contribution to green travel. Travelers who purchase a TerraPass for short-haul flights will receive a decal. Expedia is offering TerraPass to its customers at cost, so all proceeds will go towards TerraPass’ greenhouse gas reduction efforts. All TerraPass sales and support of clean energy projects are independently audited by the Center for Resource Solutions.

August 29, 2006 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

Kudos to Expedia & Travelocity- I'm definitely into projects that raise public conciousness in the climate change arena! Hopefully, they will advertise this do-good perk, too.

These programs should help in creating the alternative energy markets.One caveat to planting our way out of global warming.If biomass is not harvested,forests can return large amounts of ghgs to the atmosphere.Dying vegetaion returns stored co2 to the atmosphere and under anaerobic conditions produces methane which is a more serious ghg.We now need to be thinking of planting as a co2 sink and to a certain degree harvesting deadwood etc. for cellulosic ethanol or similar energy process.

No, don't harvest for ethanol.  Ethanol processes return all the carbon to the atmosphere.  The biomass should be carbonized to charcoal and blended back into the soil, where it will remain fixed for thousands of years.

I was asuming the tens of millions of cars on the road were not being buried and therefore still need fuel.Presently forest fires rage on accumulated deadwood and brush.Between the natural decay and fires, ghgs and pollutants are being released.

If the harvesting was used as input to a biomass process{pick your favorite}it would be a low cost stream of material.The gathering costs could be partially offset by lower firefighting costs and fire damage.

There is a portable unit that is going to follow timber crews to pocess the slash to ethanol.

earl, Engineer-Poet -- you're basically both right.

Planting trees and then harvesting them for biofuels would not be an effective way to sequester carbon, although it might be good way to reduce use of fossil fuels. Of course, trees grow rather slowly, so I'm doubtful we'll be using them for biofuels anytime soon.

But earl's original point is valid. Tree planting is just not a very good way to sequester carbon, period. That's why we don't invest in these projects at TerraPass. For more on this topic, here's an interesting post at TreeHugger:

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/07/co2nned_carbon.php

Please will you mention our RV, with a Hydrogen Fuel Supplemened System on your website.

Thanks
Graham

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