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Bundled carbon offsets


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In a recent Gradually Greening column Karl Schroeder explained how people can apply carbon offsets to driving or airfares. It was only a matter of time before a Canadian airline decided to bundle carbon offsetting as an option.

Air Canada is now giving customers the option of offsetting the amount of carbon emitted as a result of their flight, in this case with the monies collected going to reforestation in British Columbia, courtesy of zerofootprint.

Even if you worry about whether such offsetting is just a modern form of selling indulgences, such a scheme has the same virtue as smart metering of electricity, or of showing people their medical bill even if they don't have to pay for it. It gives partial feedback, making visible some of the hidden costs of our activities. Whether people take advantage of the offset option or not, that's an idea worth bundling.

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Air Canada's new carbon offset program has received a lot of attention, but it is actually the second air travel offset program in Canada. Westjet put together a rather innovative program with offsetters.ca, a small carbon offset company set up people at the University of British Columbia, a few months ago.

One thing sets the Westjet program apart. If you book a flight from Westjet, you are given the offer to purchase the offsets, much the way the Air Canada program works. However, if you link to Westjet from offsetters.ca, Westjet itself will COVER THE COST OF THE OFFSET. Why? Hey, why not? To Westjet, the advertising and the potentially new business is well worth the $10-$20 cost of the offset.

Beyond being a good deal for the consumer, it is a great model that other businesses may want to follow.

Good business practice.

Posted by: Simon Donner on June 8, 2007 9:53 AM