Flying from Aspen in a jet? Those emissions can now be offset
Emissions resulting from fuel sold at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport are now being offset by carbon credits purchased from a non-profit organization called Carbonfund.org.
In theory, this means that passengers on every plane that purchases fuel from Atlantic Aviation, the fixed-base operator at the airport, can fly without worry about the carbon emissions the plane is producing. The company began purchasing the carbon credits effective Dec. 1.
This applies to fuel sales for both private and commercial jets.
Those emissions are very real. Even in a plane cramped for space such that you don’t know where to put your feet, much less your neighbor’s elbow, you cause far more carbon dioxide emissions flying from Denver to Chicago, for example, than if you were taking the bus.
Through Carbonfund.org, air travelers can purchase offsets for flights up to 10,000 miles at a cost of $32.50. Other air travel offset packages are also available, as there are for drivers, apartments, and other housing units, even lifestyle offsets. An individual in the latter category costs $390.
Carbonfund was created in 2003 by a former EPA employee who helped start that agency’s EnergyStar program.
Where does the money go? The website describes energy efficiency projects, including one in Kenya that provides communities with efficient cookstoves and a waste co-generation project in South Korea.
The most interesting may be electrification of truck stops at various locations in the United States. Truck drivers commonly keep their trucks idling while not driving. The systems provide a flexible hose to allow the cabins to be heated or cooled, as needed, and to let the driver run the radio and check e-mail or whatever else. This saves about a gallon of diesel an hour.
Also getting money from the Carbonfund.org offsets are wind farms in both Turkey and Texas and a landfill gas-to-renewable energy project in Massachusetts. The verification of the latter was conducted by Grand Junction-based Ruby Canyon Engineering.
Atlantic Aviation’s participation in the program was voluntary. Maureen Poschman, speaking for Atlantic, said the company wanted to get local or at least Colorado offsets, but none were available for purchase. It is believed that Aspen is the first airport in the United States to offset 100% of fuel sold. No information was available about how much fuel is sold at the airport or the cost per gallon of the fixed-base operator.
Carbon offsets have been a kind of dicey area in the past decade. There’s no government regulation to ensure authenticity. That being said. CarbonFund.org seems to rank high in reputability as reported in a skim of news articles. In October, for example, the Wall Street Journal talked with Clint Henderson, senior news editor at The Points Guy travel website. He cited nonprofits as the most reputable provider, and specifically mentioned Carbonfund.org. Valuing offsets can be a bit “squishy,” he said.
Emissions caused by air travel have been a vexing challenge for airlines, because unlike cars, the age of jet travel powered by electricity from renewable sources appears to be decades away.
That said, airlines have been making moves to temper their impact. JetBlue in 2020 became the first U.S. airline to voluntary offset the CO2 emissions from the jet fuel for all its domestic flights. It purchased carbon offsets from three organizations, including Carbonfund.org.
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