Flying takes a toll on Mother Earth: The aviation industry makes up 2 percent of global carbon emissions, and one study found that a single round-trip transatlantic flight is responsible for melting 30 square feet of Arctic sea ice. But now, Lufthansa is giving customers an opportunity to make a difference, by offering them a chance to buy climate-friendly plane fuel to compensate for the emissions caused by their flight.
On Monday, the German airline said the sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) purchase via its new Compensaid platform would allow travelers to reduce up to 80 percent of “their” emissions. The SAF purchased will be used on Lufthansa flights within six months.
The SAF purchase, however, isn’t cheap: One round-trip economy-class ticket from Frankfurt to New York is €374 (US$414) more expensive than a regular ticket. If fliers decide to skip buying SAF, a synthetic form of kerosene, the airline otherwise offers them an option to donate to reforestation measures instead, which would cost €165 (US$183) more for the same flight.
SAF is created when companies reuse carbon from existing gases or biomass and transform it back into fuel. It’s expensive to produce and currently costs four times as much as fossil jet fuel, which explains some of the added ticket costs.
Although Compensaid is the first online platform of its kind to offer a tool for passengers to track their CO2 emissions, Lufthansa isn’t the only major airline making strides to become more environmentally friendly: In June, KLM made headlines for launching its “Fly Responsibly” program and for suggesting travelers consider train travel instead of short flights.
As we outlined in our Carbon Offsets: 101 primer, U.S. airlines are also now getting serious about offsetting carbon: Delta has pledged to keep its carbon emissions to 2012 levels via the purchase of offsets, and last September, United became the first U.S. airline to commit to cutting its emissions by half come 2050, which it will accomplish by adding more fuel-efficient planes and expanding its use of biofuels.
The Associated Press contributed reporting.