Image: Qantas Boeing 747 flies past a 767
Tim Wimborne  /  Reuters
Qantas and Jetstar are the latest airlines to join the rush to improve their green credentials — launching a program offering passengers the opportunity to offset carbon dioxide emissions their flights cause.
updated 9/19/2007 1:25:00 PM ET 2007-09-19T17:25:00

Australia's flagship Qantas Airways Ltd. and its popular budget carrier Jetstar launched a program Wednesday allowing passengers to offset the carbon dioxide emissions their flights cause.

The scheme allows travelers to calculate the per-passenger emissions of their flights and buy carbon dioxide credits that would be paid to a variety of environmental projects, the airline said in a statement.

A flight from Australia to Los Angeles generates around 1.4 tons of greenhouse gases per passenger, which the airline says can be offset by paying just 17 Australian dollars ($14.50; 10.46 euros) per flight.

The money would be spent on government-approved carbon dioxide abatement schemes, including grants for renewable energy sources, tree-planting projects and improvements to energy efficiency.

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The aviation industry accounts for about 2 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions and has come under increasing pressure from environmental campaigners.

Qantas and Jetstar are the latest airlines to join the rush to improve their green credentials. Australia's second-largest carrier, Virgin Blue, launched a similar program earlier this year.

Critics say carbon offset programs do not have a major impact on greenhouse gas emissions, but make consumers to feel better about polluting the environment because they pay a fee.

To launch the program, Qantas said it would plant 90,000 native eucalyptus trees across Australia to offset the carbon dioxide emissions for all its domestic and international flights on Wednesday.

Qantas Chief Executive Geoff Dixon said Wednesday's so-called "Fly Carbon Neutral Day" would offset some 40,000 tons of greenhouse gases from around 950 short and long-haul flights.

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