CO₂ compensation: the simple (bogus) solution

By Sarah RaparoliLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

Getting on a plane without a guilty conscience by offsetting your own CO₂ emissions? It's not quite that simple, according to our interview partners. About the real necessity of CO₂ compensation and how we could do it better.

The trip of some parliamentarians to Brazil had caused a lot of discussion (the Lëtzebuerger Journal reported). The criticism was less about the trip itself than about the means of transport chosen and the sense of this political excursion. The trip to Florianopolis, almost 10,000 kilometres away, was by plane. The journey produced a lot of CO₂ emissions – between 3.5 and 4.9 tonnes, depending on the calculation tool.

The ministers' ecological footprint is even more massive. According to the Luxemburger Wort, this was 80.3 tonnes for 2022 – for private individuals in Luxembourg, according to the Environment Ministry's report of 15 March 2023, the emissions per capita in 2021 were 13 tonnes or eight million tonnes of carbon dioxide in total, i.e. 5.5 per cent more than in 2020, but 12.7 per cent less than in 2019. The government's figures cannot be compared, as they have only been recorded since last year. In his 2021 State of the Nation address, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel (DP) announced CO₂ compensation for the government's foreign travel – those by plane, as travel by official cars is not compensated.

Government emissions

This means that the CO₂ emitted during such travel is offset, so to speak, and compensated for by investing corresponding amounts of money in specific projects that benefit climate protection. How much CO₂ is to be offset is determined using the emissions calculator of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). 50,000 euros have been earmarked for this in the budget law for 2023. A parliamentary answer from last year shows that 619 tonnes had been offset by August 2022. But how useful is this compensation of CO₂ emissions really?

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