Car hire firm offers customers carbon neutral option

Avis Europe, one of Europe’s leading car hire firms, with over eight million customers in 112 countries, has announced that it is to offer its customers the option of a carbon neutral hire package, expected to result in the offsetting of 32,510 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Avis UK has already been working with carbon-offset company, Future Forests, for three years, planting native trees to offset the carbon dioxide emissions produced by its operation. The company has also committed to planting one tree for every car on its UK fleet, and has increased its number of smaller vehicles in order to reduce levels of fuel consumption and emissions. In the first year of the scheme, Avis UK planted a total of 18,000 trees. On top of this, the company has committed to a year-on-year reduction in carbon dioxide from 2003 onwards.

However, this latest move covers the whole of Avis’ European network for online bookings. Avis will be running a promotion for two months, in which customers booking their car hire online will be informed that the carbon emissions resulting from their use of the vehicle will be offset through tree plantings. Then, from June onwards, customers will be given the option of making their booking carbon neutral, for which they will have to pay an average cost of only €1.6, based on a five day rental with 765km travelled.

“Having worked with Future Forests for three years, we have seen the value of tackling global warming,” said Chief Executive of Avis Europe, Mark McCafferty. “We are the first in the travel industry to make these commitments and hope that between our own behaviour and our customer and staff programmes that we can make an impact on global warming, and encourage others to follow suit.”

Calculations of emissions are carried out by the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management, a team of scientists and advisors in carbon management to government and industry. The organisation also conducts regular inspections of all tree planting sites across the UK, USA, Mexico and India.

“I commend Avis Europe for taking ownership of its greenhouse gas emissions, and inviting its staff, suppliers, and customers to do the same,” said Future Forests Chief Executive Jonathan Shopley. “Mass action on this scale can make a significant difference to the issue of global warming. Automotive manufacturers will accelerate their plans to develop low/no carbon technologies; staff motivation to improve energy efficiency will increase because people are empowered when they can take positive action; and customers have the choice of choosing a responsible supplier, and of aligning their own lifestyles with a carbon neutral future. In this way, small meaningful actions by many add up to serious progress towards a more sustainable transport sector.”

According to Future Forests, both the European Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström and UK Energy Minister Elliot Morley have welcomed the initiative.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie