U.K. plans to offset CO2 emissions from officials’ airline flights

As part of its sustainable-development strategy announced today, the U.K. is unveiling an innovative program to offset the carbon-dioxide emissions generated by the air travel of its ministers and civil servants. Starting next month in at least three government departments, each time an official flies overseas on official business, an independent assessor will determine how much CO2 will result and how much money is needed to offset it. That amount of money will then be paid into a fund devoted to sustainability projects in developing countries: solar cookers in India, micro-hydro in Sri Lanka, etc. The government estimates that almost $960,000 could be generated by the program. Greens hailed the announcement, but pointed out that the benefits of the program will be swamped by the effects of the controversial aviation bill recently signed into law, which did nothing to regulate airplane CO2 emissions. Airplane travel is widely believed to be dooming the U.K.’s ability to meet its emission-reduction targets.