Luton Airport asks passengers to buy trees

London’s Luton Airport is encouraging airline passengers to pay a small voluntary donation, the value of which is based on the distance they are travelling by air, to fund the planting of saplings which will offset the carbon dioxide emissions arising from their journeys.

On 28 June, representatives of the carbon neutral organisation, Future Forests, dressed as trees, encouraged travellers to fly ‘carbon neutral’, and received a very positive response, a Future Forests spokesman told edie. The scheme will continue over the next three months throughout the peak holiday season, but it is hoped that it will become a long-term project which will spread to other airports and airlines.

The launch was also marked by an ‘environment day’ at the airport, which included a car-free scheme with a prize for the most imaginative journey to work, and a £2 fine for single occupancy cars, which was donated to a road safety group. A number of local train and bus companies also offered free travel to airport staff for the day.

According to Future Forests, the cost of making a short haul journey carbon neutral is 0.2 pence per mile, and 0.12 pence for long haul. This means that the price of offsetting the carbon dioxide emitted as a result of a trip to Edinburgh is only 69 pence.

“Aviation is currently the fastest growing source of transport greenhouse gases and, although the aviation industry is drawing up plans to use less fuel and, in the long term, use alternative fuels, there is a need to do something now,” said Dr Mark McLellan, Head of Environment, Luton Airport. “We hope our Environment Day will show the commitment of the airport and airport-based companies to tackling environmental issues and raising awareness among our passengers and staff.”

Despite recent research which cast doubt on the use of carbon sinks (see related story), Future Forests is confident of the value of their carbon neutral programme. There is considerable difference between the role of carbon ‘sinks’, which are mature stands of trees that some parties claim will continue to absorb carbon dioxide in perpetuity, and the planting of new saplings that will accumulate carbon into their biomass whilst they grow, a Future Forests spokesman told edie. The organisation describes its position as pro-planting, and anti-sink, regarding emission reduction as critical in combating global warming, and believes that tree planting makes a serious global issue tangible and accessible, and one in which individuals can get involved.

Future Forests plants new indigenous forestry in over 50 woodlands around the country throughout the tree-planting season in the winter months.

Other carbon neutral projects include a TV pop programme (see related story), a mortgage (see related story), a printing company (see related story), and a CHP plant (see related story).

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