United Airlines has added a service to its website (united.com/carbonoffset) that promises to compensate for your share of carbon dioxide that your flight spews out during your trip. Says a United spokesperson, "An offset for travel from Tampa Bay to Chicago may be available for a contribution as low as $2.05."
The Gold Standard is backed by 60 nongovernmental organizations and was started in part by the World Wildlife Fund. It only approves energy-efficient projects, such as distributing power-saving appliances in developing nations, and renewable energy projects, such as building water power plants. It does not give its seal of approval to tree-planting projects out of concerns that reforestation may not directly reduce carbon dioxide concentrations.
Delta was the first U.S. airline to adopt a program like this, Air France was the first major European airline. Continental, Virgin America have started similar programs.
Are Carbon Offsets Worth It?
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