9 Best Carbon Offsets for Flights and Travels (Complete 2022 List)

9 Best Carbon Offsets for Flights and Travels (Complete 2022 List)

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Grace Smoot

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Aviation accounts for roughly 2.5% and tourism 8% of our global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. If we want to ensure a sustainable planet for future generations, we must take action now to reduce these emissions. And carbon offsets are one of the ways we can achieve this. So we had to ask: What are the best carbon offsets for flights and travels?

The best organizations for flight and travel carbon offsets in terms of overall impact are Sustainable Travel International, Atmosfair, and GoClimate. Organizations such as Terrapass and myclimate provide a variety of travel carbon offset options. 

Keep reading to learn more about the best carbon offsets for flights and travels, how these carbon offset projects work, what their respective offsetting costs are, and what your best way would be to offset your carbon emissions. At the end of the article, we’ll also share with you what the biggest carbon offsetting limitations are and why reducing your carbon footprint is more effective than offsetting it.

Here’s What All the Best Carbon Offsets for Flights and Travels Have in Common

Carbon offsets are reductions in carbon emissions that are used to compensate for carbon emissions occurring elsewhere. They are measured in tons of CO2 equivalents and are bought and sold through international brokers, online retailers, and trading platforms on what is known as the global carbon offset market. 

Carbon Offset: a way for a company or person to reduce the level of carbon dioxide for which they are responsible by paying money to a company that works to reduce the total amount produced in the world, for example by planting trees”

Oxford Dictionary

When you purchase carbon offsets for flights and travel, it’s important that they actually make a difference in total carbon emissions. To achieve that, the following are key criteria:

  • Carbon offset projects must be effective (different projects have different effectiveness rates)
  • Carbon offset projects must be additional
  • Carbon offset projects must be permanent
  • The claims from carbon offset projects must be verifiable

(For a full overview, check out our guide on how to choose carbon offset projects that actually make a difference.)

These Are the Best Carbon Offsets for Flights and Travels

Below are our favorite carbon offsets for flights and travels (you can click on their link to directly jump to their section in this article):

Carbon Offsets for Flights and TravelsQuick Facts
Sustainable Travel InternationalAbout: Flight, car, and boat carbon offset purchases support forestry, clean and efficient energy, blue carbon (carbon sequestration), and community-based carbon offset projects
Costs: $12.36 per 1,000kg of CO2
AtmosfairAbout: Flight carbon offset purchases support efficient cookstoves, renewable energy, and environmental education carbon offset projects
Costs: $25 per 1,000kg of CO2
GoClimateAbout: Flight carbon offset purchases support a water filter project in Indonesia, a geothermal energy project in Sumatra, and a landfill gas recovery project in Colombia
Costs: $17 per 1,000kg of CO2
TerrapassAbout: Flight carbon offset purchases support farm power, landfill gas capture, clean energy from wind power, and abandoned coal mine methane capture carbon offset projects
Costs: $17.63 per 1,000kg of CO2
myclimateAbout: Flight, car, and cruise carbon offset purchases support energy efficiency, forestry, waste management, and renewable energy carbon offset projects
Costs: $30 per 1,000kg of CO2
Cool EffectAbout: Air travel, driving, accommodations, and cruise carbon offset purchases support avoided nature loss (forestry, tree planting, grasslands), methane capture, and clean cookstoves carbon offset projects
Costs: $14.62 per 1,000kg of CO2
CarbonfundAbout: Vehicle and air travel carbon offset purchases support energy efficiency, forestry, and renewable energy carbon offset projects globally
Costs: $17.16 per 1,000kg of CO2
Climate CareAbout: Flight, road transportation, and accommodation carbon offset purchases support efficient/clean cookstoves as well as renewable energy carbon offset projects
Costs: $11.56 per 1,000kg of CO2
ClearAbout: Flight, hotel, car, motorcycle, and commute carbon offset purchases support. reforestation, efficient cookstoves, renewable energy, methane capture, and landfill gas capture carbon offset projects
Costs: $14.99 per 1,000kg of CO2

Sustainable Travel International: Transforming Tourism’s Impact on Nature

Screenshot of the Sustainable Travel International front page

Sustainable Travel International has been charting a new course for travel and tourism since 2002. Since 2007, they have helped individuals and companies offset over 386,309 metric tons (over 386 million kg) of CO2. Their mission is to transform tourism’s impact on nature and communities by protecting and conserving this planet’s most vulnerable destinations. 

“We’re dedicated to minimizing the negative impacts of tourism and maximizing its positive benefits for people, cultures, nature, and wildlife around the globe”

Sustainable Travel International

Carbon offset overview: Purchasing travel carbon offsets (flight, car, or boat) from Sustainable Travel International funds forestry, clean and efficient energy, blue carbon (carbon sequestration), and community-based projects. Some examples include wind farms in Honduras, reforestation in Brazil, and water filtration in Cambodia. 

Carbon offset effectiveness: Sustainable Travel International projects are third-party verified and validated to meet rigorous standards including additionality, permanence, no double-counting, and alignment with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

Carbon offset costs: Flight, car, and boat carbon offsets all cost approximately $12.36 per 1,000kg of CO2 offset.

How to get your carbon offsets: Visit their carbon offset calculator to offset your emissions based on your mode of transportation (i.e., flight, car, or boat). Or if you already know your carbon footprint, you can offset by metric tons of CO2.

Atmosfair: Climate-Friendly Air Travel

Screenshot of the atmosfair front page

Atmosfair is a German nonprofit organization founded in 2005 with a focus in business travel that promotes, develops, and finances renewable energy in over 15 countries globally. Their mission is to offset flight emissions until technology such as zero-emission planes or unproblematic biofuels exists. 

“Only compensate what can’t be avoided or reduced”

Atmosfair

Carbon offset overview: Atmosfair provides the option to offset your flight emissions, which takes into account the flight distance, maximum flight altitude, CO2 emissions, climate impact from contrails and ozone formation, and fuel consumption. Purchases support projects involving efficient cookstoves, renewable energy, and environmental education

Carbon offset effectiveness: Atmosfair projects are additional, permanent, transparent, and verified by the CDM and Gold Standard

Carbon offset costs: The cost to offset your flight emissions varies depending on the departure airport, flight class, flight type, aircraft type, arrival airport, number of flights, and number of persons traveling. There is also the option to offset your desired amount of CO2 at a cost of $25 per 1,000kg of CO2 offset.

How to get your carbon offsets: Visit their website to offset your flight or offset a desired amount of CO2.

GoClimate: Fighting Climate Change

Screenshot of the GoClimate front page

GoClimate is a social enterprise founded in 2017 with the mission of slowing climate change. They calculate your emissions, support you in reducing them, and offer a subscription service for contributing to certified climate projects. Since their inception they have contributed to the avoidance of 733,779 tonnes (808,864 tons) of CO2.

“Together we can save the climate!”

GoClimate

Carbon offset overview: GoClimate provides the option to purchase flight carbon offsets. These offsets currently support a water filter project in Indonesia, a geothermal energy project in Sumatra, and a landfill gas recovery project in Colombia. Previously, GoClimate has supported other renewable energy, cookstoves, and methane recovery projects in Chile, China, India, Aruba, Brazil, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Rwanda.

Carbon offset effectiveness: Climate Care projects are third-party verified by the Gold Standard.

Carbon offset costs: It costs approximately $17 to offset 1,000kg of CO2 with GoClimate.

How to get your carbon offsets: Visit their flight carbon offset page to offset emissions from your flight. You can also use their travel emissions calculator to see how much your emissions are from various modes of transportation and then offset accordingly via their monthly subscription or flight offsets

Terrapass: Carbon Offsets for Individuals and Businesses

Screenshot of the terrapass front page

Terrapass is an organization that has been providing carbon offsets to individuals and businesses since 2004. In 2020, Terrapass customers offset roughly the same amount of carbon as planting 7 million trees. Their mission is to fight climate change by reducing as many carbon emissions as possible via the use of education, online tools, carbon offsets, and renewable energy. 

“Restore the balance”

Terrapass

Carbon offset overview: Terrapass provides an option to purchase flight carbon offsets, which takes into account the number of travelers and the total air miles for each traveler. Purchases help fund carbon offset projects including farm power, landfill gas capture, clean energy from wind power and abandoned coal mine methane capture

Carbon offset effectiveness: Terrapass uses the Verified Carbon Standard, Gold Standard, American Carbon Registry and the Climate Action Reserve to help ensure transparency and quality in the creation, quantification, and verification of offset projects.

Carbon offset costs: According to Terrapass, every 1,000 miles traveled generates approximately 500 lbs of CO2 per passenger. To offset your flight emissions, it costs $17.63 to offset 1,000 kg of CO2

How to get your carbon offsets: Visit their flight carbon offset webpage to purchase your flight carbon offsets.

myclimate: Shaping the Future

Screenshot of the myclimate front page

myclimate is an international, Swiss-based initiative that is one of the world’s leaders in voluntary carbon compensation measures. They work with small, medium, and large companies, public administrations, non-profit organizations, and private individuals to provide high-quality projects with quantifiable climate protection. Their mission is to be a partner for global and local climate protection and to shape the future of the world through advisory services and educational programs.

“myclimate is your partner for effective climate protection – locally and globally”

myclimate

Carbon offset overview: myclimate provides carbon offsets for flights, cars, and cruises. Purchases fund offset projects including energy efficiency, forestry, waste management, renewable energy. Some examples include efficient cookstoves in the Himalayas, forest management in Switzerland, and hydropower in Vietnam. They currently have 144 voluntary carbon offset projects in 41 countries. 

Carbon offset effectiveness: myclimate projects contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and are certified according to either the  Gold Standard, VCS, or Plan Vivo.

Carbon offset costs: The cost to offset emissions from your flight, car, or cruise varies is approximately $30 per 1,000kg of CO2. Alternatively, you can donate to their mission for a fixed rate of $30 to offset 1,000kg of CO2.

How to get your carbon offsets: Visit their website to offset emissions from flights, cars, or cruises. You can also donate to myclimate’s mission by either contributing a certain dollar amount or offsetting a certain number of kg. 

Cool Effect: Giving Like the Planet Depends on It

Screenshot of the Cool Effect front page

Cool Effect began in 1998 with a small, clean-burning cookstoves project in Honduras and has since grown to represent a platform with 15+ global projects and a community of more than 500,000. Their mission is to give people the power and confidence to band together and reduce the carbon pollution that causes climate change.

“Carbon done correctly”

Cool Effect

Carbon offset overview: Cool Effect offers the option to offset your emissions from air travel, driving, accommodations, and cruises. Purchasing carbon offsets funds projects involving avoided nature loss (forestry, tree planting, grasslands), methane capture, and clean cookstoves. These projects are located in the United States (Montana, Oregon, Tennessee), India, China, Myanmar, Indonesia, Honduras, Kenya, and Uganda. 

Carbon offset effectiveness: Cool Effect projects are 100% additional, rigorously verified, and adhere to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Carbon offset costs: It costs approximately $14.62 per 1,000 kg of CO2 for air travel, driving, accommodation, and cruise carbon offsets.

How to get your carbon offsets: Visit their webpage to offset your air travel, driving, accommodation, or cruise emissions.

Carbonfund: Go Carbon Neutral

Screenshot of the Carbonfund front page

Carbonfund is a nonprofit organization founded in 2003 by current President Eric Carlson and is based in New York, United States of America. Their mission is to make it easy for any individual, business, or organization to reduce & offset their climate impact and hasten the transition to a clean energy future.

“Reduce what you can, offset what you can’t”

Carbonfund

Carbon offset overview: Carbonfund offers the option to offset your vehicle and air travel carbon emissions. Purchases support energy efficiency, forestry, and renewable energy carbon offset projects globally. To date, they have supported 240 projects in 28 countries.

Carbon offset effectiveness: Carbonfund projects are third-party verified and adhere to the Verified Carbon Standard, Gold Standard, American Carbon Registry,and Climate Action Reserve.

Carbon offset costs: Their vehicle and air travel carbon offsets cost approximately $17.16 per 1,000kg. They also have an option to plant trees at a cost of $1 per tree planted in increments of 10, 25, 50, or 100. Lastly, you can donate to the cause with a minimum donation of $5 per year. 

How to get your carbon offsets: You can join the fight against climate change by offsetting your vehicle or air travel carbon footprint, planting trees, or making a donation

Climate Care: Climate Action Starts Here

Screenshot of the climatcare front page

Climate Care was founded in 1997 and currently delivers some of the largest carbon offsetting programs in the world. To date, they have reduced 51 million tons of CO2. Their mission is to help deliver 1 billion tonnes of carbon reductions by 2030. 

“Turn climate responsibilities into business opportunity”

Climate Care

Carbon offset overview: Climate Care provides the option to purchase flight, road transportation, and accommodation carbon offsets. Purchasing carbon offsets through their Climate+Care mixed portfolio supports the Gyapa efficient cookstoves project in Ghana, the Bondhu Chula clean cookstoves project in Bangladesh, the Orb Solar project in India, and the global renewables project. Other projects may be added to this list depending on customer demand. 

Carbon offset effectiveness: Climate Care projects are verified by either the Gold Standard or the VCS.

Carbon offset costs: Through the Climate+Care mixed portfolio, it costs $11.56  to offset 1,000 kg of CO2.

How to get your carbon offsets: You can use the Climate Care carbon offset calculator to calculate and offset your emissions from flight, road transportation, or accommodations. Offsetting more than 2,000 tonnes of CO2 requires contacting a representative for more detailed pricing information.

Clear: Join the Climate Change Mission  

Screenshot of the clear front page

Clear was founded in 2005, when climate change first hit society’s radar. They provide individuals and businesses the opportunity to offset activities such as staying in hotels, commuting, public transport, maritime freight, and even skydiving and balloon flights. Their mission is to use technology and innovation to empower individuals and smaller companies to easily take environmental action now.

“Will this carbon offset really cover the emissions I can’t avoid creating? Clear is dedicated to living up to that promise.”

Clear

Carbon offset overview: Clear offers a variety of carbon offset options, including flight, hotel, car, motorcycle, and commute carbon offsets. They also offer the option to make your purchase carbon-neutral, 50% carbon negative, 100% carbon negative, or 200% carbon negative. Purchases support projects involving reforestation, efficient cookstoves, renewable energy, methane capture, and landfill gas capture. 

Carbon offset effectiveness: Clear carbon offsets are the first in the world to be independently certified against the Quality Assurance Standard (QAS), a comprehensive independent audit system for companies wanting to become carbon neutral through carbon reduction. 

Carbon offset costs: The cost to offset emissions from your flight, hotel, car, motorcycle, or commute costs approximately $19.49 per 1,000kg of CO2. They also offer the option to make your purchase carbon negative at 50%, 100%, or 200% which increases the overall cost accordingly. Purchasing a carbon offset directly costs $14.99 per 1,000kg of CO2.

How to get your carbon offsets: You can use the Clear carbon offset calculator to calculate and offset your emissions from your flight, hotel, car, motorcycle, or commute. Or you can directly purchase a carbon offset.

How to Choose Carbon Offset Projects That Actually Make a Difference

The following information is a summary for you based on our full guide: “How to Buy Carbon Offsets That Actually Make a Difference

Purchase carbon offset projects with high effectiveness rates. The offset programs in order of most to least effective are:

Direct CO2 removalMachines remove CO2 directly from the air. Effective at reducing emissions in the short and long-term because they are additional and permanent.
Renewable energyInvesting in projects that build and maintain renewable energy sites globally. There is no additionality because renewables are becoming a greater share of our energy mix, with or without the help of offsets.
Energy efficiency improvementsThe creation of products or systems that use less energy than conventional systems to perform the same task. However, if products are replaced too quickly, the amount of CO2 required to produce the new product would exceed the amount of CO2 saved with the new product.
Carbon sequestrationThe long-term storage of carbon via forestry practices. Not an effective way to reduce emissions in the long-term because there is no guaranteed permanence.

If – and only if – they are both additional and permanent, carbon offsets can help reduce your overall GHG emissions to balance off your personal carbon footprint to fight climate change – at least in the short term. But they can be much more effective if they meet certain key criteria and project standards.

Here are key criteria to look for in a carbon offset program:

  • A clearly defined protocol that determines which types of projects are eligible and how emission reductions will be measured
  • Independent third-party verification of compliance with the protocol
  • Registration of offsets in an offset registry, which tracks each credit with a unique serial number to ensure it is only used once 

If used correctly, carbon offsets can provide environmental, economic, and social benefits that go beyond reducing carbon emissions. They have the potential to instigate meaningful environmental change and begin to reverse some of the effects of climate change. 

Carbon offset project standards assure transparency and quality in the creation, quantification, and verification of offset projects. This way you can ensure that the project is actually reducing CO2 emissions. The following are recognized carbon offset standards:

  • Verified Carbon Standard (VCS): Considered the world’s leading voluntary GHG program, with 1700+ projects having removed 630+ million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. Examples of projects include hydropower in Turkey, forest conservation in Peru, and landfill gas capture in China.

Choosing carbon offset projects from any of the above project standard registries helps ensure that your project is verified and that it actually reduces CO2 emissions.

What Are the Biggest Carbon Offsetting Limitations

In fact, there are 9 main carbon offsetting limitations that can make the current voluntary carbon market controversial and lead to confusion, inconsistencies, and a general distrust of the system. Have a look at the quick summary table below.

Carbon Offsetting LimitationQuick Facts
#1: You don’t reduce your own carbon footprintWhen you purchase a carbon offset, you are paying someone else to cut their emissions so you don’t have to cut your own emissions.
#2: Carbon offsets do not work at the core issue of reducing CO2 emissionsGlobal warming is still occurring at an accelerated rate because offsetting CO2 emissions does not cut CO2 emissions at the source, it only mitigates emissions.
#3: Carbon offsetting only reduces CO2 if the projects are additional and permanentIf carbon offset projects are not additional and permanent, they can make climate change worse because they are not offsetting any carbon.
#4: “Poorer” countries are paid to offset carbon while the “rich” countries continue to emitThe richest of the world emit the majority of the world’s carbon. Offsets are just licenses to pollute with the benefit of aiding those in developing countries.
#5: Different projects have different effectiveness ratesThe varying levels of effectiveness of carbon offset programs make it difficult to choose one that actually reduces emissions. The most effective offset programs are renewable energy programs, followed by energy efficiency improvements, carbon sequestration, and aviation offset programs.  
#6: CO2 offsets are only realized at the end of project durations If a carbon offset program is not carried out until the end, then we cannot reap the program’s benefits. For example, planting trees is a common offset program that is only effective if those planted trees are protected during their life span for the carbon benefits to be realized. 
#7: There are not enough offsets for all CO2 emissionsWe emit far more CO2 than we can offset because of carbon sink (e.g., atmosphere, forests, soil, ocean) limitations.
#8: Not all offset projects get realizedOf the credits for 1 billion tons of CO2 listed on registries, only about 300-400 million tons of CO2 offsets actually get realized. 
#9: Carbon offsetting projects are often used as greenwashingInvesting in non-verified credits, not prioritizing in-house emissions reductions, and double-counting carbon credits are methods of greenwashing. Also, companies may advertise a specific program, but it may be just for public attention instead of actually reducing emissions.

You can check out the full article here: “What Are the Biggest Carbon Offsetting Limitations? (All 9 Explained)

Why Reducing Your Carbon Footprint Is More Effective Than Offsetting It

The main argument against carbon offsets is that they don’t really reduce overall emissions. Instead of substituting offsetting carbon emissions, we should instead cut the emissions directly at the source. Basically, if we stop emissions from getting into the atmosphere in the first place, we won’t have to worry about offsetting. But have we done this? Have we cut emissions directly at the source? The data says no.  

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered the largest decrease in energy-related carbon emissions since World War II, a decrease of 2 billion tons. However, emissions rebounded quickly at the end of 2020, with levels in December ending 60 million tons higher than those in December 2019. This indicates that the earth is still warming at an accelerated rate, and not enough is being done to implement clean energy practices. 

Illustration of annual CO2 emissions globally
Our World in Data: Annual total CO2 emissions

When you buy a carbon offset, you are paying someone else to cut their emissions so you don’t have to cut your own emissions. This is why offsetting alone will not be enough to reduce global carbon emissions.

Carbon offsets are a good place to start if you want to get into the carbon-emission reduction game, but in order to be effective in the long term, we must not rely on them solely. Cutting emissions from the source and then offsetting the remainder is the best way to reduce our carbon footprint and provide the highest environmental benefits. If we fail to cut emissions first, we will fill up our carbon sinks and render them unusable. Preventing carbon emissions rather than reacting once they are already emitted is the best way to reduce overall emissions.

Carbon offsets reduce GHG emissions from coal, oil, and natural gas. Reducing your consumption of these, in turn, reduces your carbon footprint, which has huge impacts on environmental, economic, and public health. A reduced carbon footprint due to lower GHG emissions can mitigate the effects of climate change, improve public health, boost the economy, and maintain plant and animal diversity.

  • Public health: Reducing GHG emissions lessens the likelihood and severity of extreme weather events, improves air and water quality, maintains biodiversity, and supports a healthy food supply.
  • Economics: Reducing GHG boosts the economy, especially when it becomes economically rewarding to innovate solutions that help protect our planet, fight climate change, and are based on clean energy.
  • Plant and animal diversity: Protecting biodiversity protects human health because many plants and animals are used in modern medicines

Carbon offsets have the potential to instigate meaningful environmental change, but to make the greatest impact we must understand both their benefits AND drawbacks

You can find out all about it in our article “Can You Really Offset Your Carbon Footprint? Here Are the Facts

Final Thoughts

Sustainable Travel International, Atmosfair, Terrapass, myclimate, AdventureSmith Explorations, Cool Effect, Carbonfund, Climate Care, and Clear are some of the best carbon offset options for flights and travels. They are additional, permanent, and verified by accredited third parties, meaning they can actually reduce CO2 emissions.

Carbon offsets are one tool in our climate mitigation toolbox, but they should not be viewed as a panacea for climate change. We should firstly reduce our own carbon footprint as much as possible before we choose the most effective carbon offset project for flights and travels. Coupled with measures of direct carbon footprint reduction, carbon offsets can be much more effective.

Stay impactful,

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Grace Smoot

Grace loves to research and write about all things related to climate action and sustainability. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Environmental Biology and works as an Environmental Survey Technician. Outside of work, she loves to work out, play soccer, and take her dog for long walks.

Did you know that the internet is a huge polluter of the environment? But fortunately not this site. This site is powered by renewable energy and all hosting-related CO2 emissions are offset by three times as many renewable energy certificates. Find out all about it here.

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