Twice as Many Travellers Offsetting Their Carbon Emissions

About 100 people have offset the carbon emissions from their flights to and from Iceland so far this year, which is already double the number of people who did so in 2018. RÚV reports that four thousand trees must be planted on one hectare [2.47 acres] in order to accomplish this balance.

Travelers wishing to offset the carbon emissions generated by their travels can register on the website of the Kolviður Fund. The fund was established by the Icelandic Forestry Association and the Icelandic Environment Association with the support of the Icelandic government and aims to “reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere by increasing the carbon sequestration of forest ecosystems, binding the soil and reducing soil erosion, increasing public awareness and the awareness of companies in regard to greenhouse gas emissions, and promoting education on related issues.”

In addition to individual travelers, as many as 60 companies have also registered to offset their own carbon footprints through the website. “We’re figuring on planting around 150,000 trees this summer around Úlfljótsvatn lake,” explained Kolviður chairman Reynir Kristinsson. “It was around 100,000 last year.” It could take around 60 years for trees to achieve full carbon sequestration, he continued, but the plants will be considerably effective after even just ten years.

Two flights to Tenerife from Iceland generates as much pollution as one family car over the course of an entire year. As Icelanders become more habitual travelers and take a growing number of trips abroad, an increasing number of people are experiencing flugskömm, or flight shame, over the negative effects that increased air travel has on the environment.

Eighty-three percent of Icelanders traveled abroad last year—the highest percentage of citizens to do so since 2009. Even so, multiple surveys have shown that Icelanders are less willing to change their travel habits out of concern for the environmental impact than they are to change their consumption habits at home. 52.6% of respondents said they were planning a city break abroad in 2019, 43.5% were planning a holiday in a “sunny country,” and 34.7% said they’d be visiting friends or relatives who live abroad.