Where does carbon offsetting appear in the booking journey?
When a traveller books a flight with us using direct booking, they’ll see an optional extra
to offset their carbon for a small cost.
This optional extra, if selected, gets added to the final payment. The traveller will see
two separate transactions on their bank statement: one for the airline and the other for CHOOOSE, our carbon offsetting partner.
How do you calculate carbon emissions?
We calculate carbon emissions using several criteria. These include the aircraft model, with newer planes often being more fuel-efficient; the distance being travelled; whether the route is direct or indirect, as direct flights are usually more efficient, and seat capacity: the more seats, the lower the fuel consumption per person.
We also refer to the recommended emission factors from the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which are updated annually. We apply its 1.9x radiative forcing index to all calculations to account for a flight’s wider impact on climate change.
Our calculations depend on various sources but are as accurate as possible, and we work continuously to keep improving their accuracy.
What’s radiative forcing?
Commercial aviation’s impact on the climate involves more than just the effects of CO2 emissions. There are also non-CO2 gases released, as well as aerosol particles and water vapour that affect atmospheric composition and cloudiness. These impacts on the climate are measured with a metric known as ‘radiative forcing’.
Where do our travellers’ carbon offsetting contributions go?
Any carbon offset contribution made is debited directly by CHOOOSE and then put towards a Gold Standard-certified project, to reduce an equivalent amount of carbon. For every contribution made, CHOOOSE retains just €0.70 to cover their running costs.
Even seemingly small contributions go a long way, as all contributions will typically offset more than their calculated footprint, so travellers can rest assured that the balance in carbon emissions is committed to.
Why have you selected CHOOOSE as your partner?
CHOOOSE is a company dedicated to reducing carbon emissions in the battle against climate change. Their team selects the most impactful carbon-reducing projects around the world.
All their projects are certified by the Gold Standard, a leading international carbon protocol. They ensure the projects have a real impact and benefit local communities, so travellers know their money will make a difference.
Project examples include creating more efficient, greener cooking stoves in Myanmar, distributing clean water filters in Cambodia, building small-scale hydropower plants in Honduras, and installing a sustainable wind farm in Costa Rica.
How do travellers know their contributions will make a difference?
All Gold Standard projects must adhere to the principle of ‘additionality’, which means the projects can only happen as a result of funding. In other words, travellers aren’t supporting a project that would have been carried out anyway.
All projects we sponsor are subject to ongoing and regular monitoring, reporting and auditing, to ensure they remain in compliance with these operational standards and best practices.
What if we’re already offsetting our travellers’ carbon emissions?
We know some of our partners already offset some flights or ticket types, so we’re encouraging travellers to check if their airline is already offsetting their CO2 emissions. The service offered through Skyscanner is intended to be supplementary to schemes offered by airlines.
Every offset benefits the environment, so we encourage all travellers not just to strive to be carbon neutral, but to offset whenever possible with the aim of becoming carbon negative and really doing their bit for the planet.
What other sustainability initiatives are Skyscanner working on?
One of the product features we’ve implemented for travellers is our ‘Greener Choice’ flight labels. When people search on Skyscanner they’ll see a green leaf symbol next to flights which emit less CO2 than average for that route. This classification is based on the type or aircraft, the number of stops and the seat capacity, so travellers can make an informed decision. Last year, more than 11 million travellers selected a Greener Choice flight for their chosen route. We’ve seen an increase in travellers selecting this option across all markets, with countries such as Sweden achieving the highest conversion.
Due to the success of our Greener Choice feature and the feedback we received from both travellers and partners, we want to increase the data that drives our algorithm to ensure we’re incentivising our partners who are excelling in sustainability – rewarding both current emission reductions and longer-term investment in solutions aimed at decarbonising aviation.
We’ve also been considering the issue of ‘over tourism’ and how Skyscanner can help by shifting demand to less crowded places. We’ve run a pilot on our website encouraging travellers who are searching for a popular or busy destination to switch to a quieter month or a similar yet less crowded destination nearby. For example, if they select Venice, Italy we’d also highlight Trieste. Early results have been extremely promising, and we plan to focus on developing and expanding this feature throughout 2020.
But driving this change is not something we can do alone. We must work with others in the sector who are equally committed to making real change and taking concrete actions to address and correct the current climate catastrophe.
We’re a founding member of Travalyst, a global initiative led by the Duke of Sussex, which includes fellow global industry leaders like Trip.com Group, TripAdvisor, Booking.com and Visa. We’ve come together out of a shared passion for travel and a belief that it can be a real force for good.
Through Travalyst we’re helping ensure a positive future for destinations and local communities in every part of the world for generations to come – from conserving natural resources to finding more impactful ways to reduce and offset carbon emissions associated with travel. We know we’ve got a responsibility to our planet and each other, and together we’re a catalyst for change.
Can we talk to Skyscanner about collaborating on our own carbon offsetting?
Of course, we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch with your commercial manager.