Carbon Footprint

I’m a bit confused about the “carbon footprint” issue. The world’s current favorite Royals, Harry and Meghan got in a bit of trouble for flying around in a private jet while vacationing and doing charitable good things. The Sussex family, is known for promoting a sustainable lifestyle – so this was seen as hypocrytical. Sir Elton John leapt to their defense, stating that he had purchased carbon credits to offset their travel, implying that it’s all OK.

Now, I a not quite so royal or sophisticated citizen of the world like to travel a bit too. I also try to use products that are sustainable, when affordable and reasonably attainable. But it’s not like anyone is offering to send me on a private jet to visit their private estate or yacht.

Photo by Paul Faraday on

But I don’t think I could brag about being a climate change advocate if I were a world traveller of that sort. We have to use our own values to determine the costs of our lifestyle choices effects on the world.

Young adults children in my family circle worry about climate change, and yet drive all around the province to attend school and work, without spending time to investigate ways to reduce travel costs. I live in a cold country where the heat of our buildings is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Should I be cold? Should I reduce the size of my home? Should we all have less stuff, travel less? Have fewer children? Well likely yes, but no?

The part that I found most confusing was the purchase of carbon credits. Apparently there are companies that you can give your money to – to offset the impact of your travel.

As I understand it, these companies take your money and give it to organizations that impact the environment in a positive way. So you do something bad for the environment, but it’s OK because you give some money to one of these organizations. My understanding is that these companies – non-profits, with employees and expenses, then take no more than 20% of this money for their expenses. They then send 80% or so to another organization that does good things. Does it then spend 100% on good things or do they spend 80% as well? Just wondering…..

Then in many countries, the individual that donates can get a tax deduction for their donation. If we are wealthy enough perhaps could that be a 50% refund? (For me, when I reduce my income with expenses – at a 50% marginal tax rate – my income is reduced by half of that expense). So if I’m correct, if I donate $1000, it’s really only $500 to me, and $800 goes to the environment? It’s seems like a little bit of charitable pretzel-logic to me.

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It all seems like a good deal for everyone. What if instead of that, we just donated the money to good projects anyway and travelled less?

Does this make more sense than carbon credits?

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