Taking part in a Work the World programme is a fantastic opportunity to gain invaluable experience, meet people from all over the world, and of course to travel to exciting new places. But although we find that many of our students share a real passion for travel, they also share an awareness and concern for the c02 emissions associated with air travel and the other carbon emissions that we as humans create en masse.
Most students will have to fly to the location of their elective placement, and we have already got some advice on the site for how to go about arranging your travel. But what about the environmental impact of this travel? We’ve put together some thoughts and tips below, which we hope can answer any questions you might have and give you some ideas for reducing and offsetting your carbon footprint.
What is a carbon footprint and how you can find out what yours is?
Your carbon footprint refers to the impact your actions have on the levels of c02 being released into Earth’s atmosphere. These emissions are one of the causes of global warming and other environmental problems which we all need to be working to reduce – as individuals as well as at a business and governmental level.
You can work out your overall carbon footprint using this carbon footprint calculator, or the carbon footprint you leave from specific actions (such as taking a flight) using this alternative calculator. Once you know your own impact you can work on reducing your total carbon footprint and look into offsetting the unavoidable carbon emissions that we all create from time to time.
How can you reduce your carbon footprint?
When it comes to traveling, long haul flights are often unavoidable. However, avoiding short hop flights can make a real difference. The shorter flights (such as internal flights in the UK and other small countries) are the ones which cause the most harmful emissions, so try to travel internally in a more carbon efficient way whenever you can. Planning your trips carefully so they are as direct and efficient as possible is also a real help.
Can you offset your carbon footprint?
Once you’ve done everything you can to reduce your carbon footprint you can also consider offsetting the carbon emissions that you can’t avoid. The first carbon offsetting projects several years ago were focussed around planting trees to counteract c02 emissions, but offsetting has come quite a long way since this method was criticised for not being effective enough.
These days, your offsetting efforts are more likely to fund projects which take more preventative action, such as providing energy saving light bulbs to places that wouldn’t otherwise have access to them. The idea being that we should really focus on reducing emissions rather than just offsetting.
The cost of offsetting is often rather cheap relative to the action you are compensating for. For example, some flights can be offset for as little as £20, and some airlines will even include an opt in for offsetting in the ticket price.
Unfortunately, everyone leaves a carbon footprint of some description – but just being conscious of your actions and doing all you can to reduce the impact your travel has on the environment can make a tangible difference.