In my inbox today – “Introducing Jetstar’s Carbon Offset Program”:
To celebrate the launch, we are going to be paying for all carbon emissions on every international and domestic flight, for all of our passengers, on Wednesday 19th September – the first day of our new program.
This single day offset will have a six figure price tag and is a real sign of our commitment to protecting our environment…
The program is accredited by the Government’s Greenhouse Friendly program, which includes tree-based offsets in the mix of accredited products. (I’m not a fan of tree-based offsets – investment in renewable energy, like that offered by Climate Friendly, is preferred in my book.)
Unlike Virgin, Jetstar have embedded offsetting into their booking page on their website – right after the “excess baggage” section. This is a good move (and one of the criticisms I had of the Virgin program.)
A flight from Sydney to the Sunshine Coast – which, fortuitously I need to book today 😉 – adds $2.52 to the flight cost. By contrast, Climate Friendly’s price for the same trip are $13.04. This is partly because Climate Friendly also include other factors in their pricing – such as the contrails and other impacts of flights – as well as using more expensive credits.
That said, Jetstar do go to some effort to explain how they calculate the cost and it seems they are factoring in a few things specific to their airline, which may also lower the cost. They also claim that they “will not make any profit from Carbon Offset transactions”.
The offsetting doesn’t apply to Jetstar’s business operations, nor is it compulsory for all passengers (it’s not even ticked by default). But they do claim to be taking measures to increase operational efficiency:
Jetstar is focused on the implementation of several conservation strategies relating to energy, water and waste usage across all facets of its operation.
They also tout the benefits of their younger plane fleet’s fuel efficiency as one of the “measures” they are taking (although I doubt environmental benefit played a significant part in their decision making process).
Unfortunately for Jetstar, like Virgin, their core business, low-cost flights, are actually contributing significantly to the increase in flights being taken, which in turn contribute to global warming. So moves like this will do little to dent the scepticism of many a hardened climate campaigner.
But as I’ve mentioned before, I think, on balance, programs such as these do help, because they result in investment in renewable energy (and in the case of tree-based programs, landcare and bushland regeneration). And with our government lagging behind in introducing any concrete targets or legislation, this can only be a good thing.
Find out more about the program on Jetstar’s site.