atmosfair's guiding principles: What role does CO₂ offsetting play in climate protection?

 

atmosfair does not offer CO₂ offsetting for driving a car or fossil fuel consumption directly on its website, yet it does offset long-distance flights and cruises, even to exotic destinations. Behind this are the following atmosfair guiding principles:

  1. No value judgements: atmosfair does not question a customer’s desire for a particular product that creates CO₂. It is not atmosfair’s place to judge whether a cruise may be more important to a person than a holiday in the Black Forest or the new iPhone. For this reason, atmosfair also does not differentiate between CO₂ emissions created by luxury or basic products or on the basis of other criteria. That’s because not only would the boundaries be uncertain, but also determined by value judgements, which we want to avoid.
  2. Avoid – reduce – offset: As a climate protection organisation, we are interested in a product’s or activity’s CO₂ emissions. True to our guiding principle (first avoid – then reduce – and only then offset), with this, we are asking the question whether the CO₂ can be avoided or reduced through the purchase of alternative products. From a climate perspective, we must ensure that this potential is tapped before CO₂ offsetting is involved because otherwise, offsetting can become counterproductive for climate protection. In concrete terms, this means that our partners commit themselves to appropriate efforts towards direct CO₂ reductions that are technically possible for their products in addition to offsetting. What this means in an individual case depends on the industry/activity and the technology. Some examples of this are:

 

  • We do not offset CO₂ from electricity created using fossil fuels because with green electricity, there is a CO₂-free alternative that can already be purchased.
  • We offset cruises if the partner company takes measures that, alongside CO₂ offsetting, also reduce the CO₂ production of the cruise itself. For this, there are technological possibilities that we are carrying forward, e.g., with our partner AIDA. As long as CO₂ remains, it is sensible from a climate protection perspective for atmosfair to offset the rest of the CO₂ during a bridging stage. For this, it is important that there is a future prospect of a CO₂-free cruise and that the partners are actively pursuing it. This applies equally for airlines, even if the bridging phase will still last many more decades.
  • For car driving, there are already climate-friendly alternatives, e.g., electric cards with green electricity. As long as these are still expensive, it is nevertheless better for climate protection if the customer’s money is used to increase demand for these available alternatives in order to lower their price in the long run. This is advantageous for climate protection long-term; in contrast, CO₂ offsetting leads away from the direct path to the climate goal in this case.

 

Private customers vs. companies: We always respect private customers’ desire to offset. Unlike companies’ production, private customers make personal, short-term individual decisions and can only decide themselves what the above-mentioned relationship of CO₂ avoidance or reduction to offsetting is. For this reason, we also offset the amount of CO₂ desired by the customer; however, we do not issue a certificate for, e.g., “climate-neutral car driving,” because for this, there are normally CO-free alternatives.