What is the best way in travel to combat climate change? Flight shaming, carbon offsets, or perhaps some other way?

The Ensemble Travel Group come down on the side of carbon offsets.

The Group formed a partnership with Cool Effect, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing carbon emissions and flighting climate change, that will enable travel advisors to help clients offset carbon footprints resulting from air travel.

The partnership, announced at Ensemble’s 2019 International Conference in Seattle last week, incorporates Cool Effect’s Travel Offset Tool into the consortium’s platform. The tool enables users to calculate the amount of carbon emissions resulting from a flight and make a monetary donation to a Cool Effect sustainability project based on the size of the carbon footprint.

“We’re the first consortium to do this and we’re setting a new standard for the industry,” said Ensemble CEO David Harris when announcing the partnership. “This will allow our network of thousands of advisors to make offsetting travel a seamless and easy process for travelers.”

Harris also announced that Ensemble’s first use of the tool was to calculate the carbon footprint of all attendees flying to the conference. To offset the amount, Ensemble made a donation to the Jacunda Forest Reserve in Brazil, one of Cool Effect’s 15 sustainability projects around the world. The Jacunda Forest Preserve protects rubber trees and other flora in the Amazon rainforest, teaches sustainable farming, constructs houses, and provides jobs for local communities.

During a panel discussion, Responsible Travel and the Advisor Role, Jodi Manning, director of marketing for Cool Effect, explained to conference attendees how the Travel Offsite Tool works, using a 2,500-mile flight from San Francisco to New York on a 280-passenger airplane as an example.

“Each flight would use 280 metric tons of carbon emissions or one ton per passenger,” she said. “Based on that, the passenger’s flight can be offset by a cost of $7.80. So the donation cost is low.”

Travelers can choose which project they would like to support. In addition to the Jacunda Rainforest Preserve, there are projects devoted to planting mangroves, orangutan habitats, community tree-planting, ocean ecology, renewable energy and more.

According to Manning, taking positive steps to offset carbon emissions is a better solution than flight shaming, the practice of feeling guilt about air travel.

“Cool Effect doesn’t believe in shame,” she told the Ensemble audience. “Travel is a force to connect people and promote peace. I got on a plane to come to the conference. Shaming is not the answer.”

Photo Credit: Participants in the Jacunda Forest Preserve in Brazil, a sustainability project to protect the rainforest and support local communities, thank Ensemble Travel for a donation made through Cool Effect. Ensemble Travel Group