Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Ethical travel company drops offsets

Ethical Performance this month reports that responsibletravel.com has removed the facility for its customers to offset their travel emissions, arguing that effort needs to be reinvested into actually reducing greenhouse gases. The travel agent was established in 2001 with backing from private investors including Anita Roddick and was one of the first in the tourism industry to introduce an offset scheme. However, it now feels that carbon mitigation must be its first priority and that offseting distracts from the real issues.

Responsibletravel.com turns over more than £10m and offers a choice of 3,500 holidays, all of which can be booked as "land only" packages that don't involve flying. It now offers "carbon cautions" to customers, giving advice on reducing emissions through lifestyle changes. Its actions are likely to be welcomed by NGOs such as Friends of the Earth, which has called offset schemes "a dangerous distraction", and Sinkswatch, which says that offsetting schemes run the risk of exacerbating climate change by providing a false expectation that they are making a difference.

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