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Carbon offsetting for expeditions

Fjell

Well-known member
A 777-300 carries about 180,000 litres of fuel, and KL is about maximum range. 2x180,000 = 360,000l. Divide by about 300 people, so about 1200 litres of fuel each. Jet fuel yields about 3kg CO2 per kg fuel. So you can see how you get something over 3t of CO2 with a density of 0.8.

EU carbon credits sell for about €90/tonne, so I would think you would be in for around €300. Assuming you believe it leads to concrete action, which I am very dubious about in many cases.
 

ttxela2

Active member
$50 seems very cheap.

Back of an envelope - one broadleaf tree ties up one tonne of carbon over a 100 year lifespan (Woodland Trust)
Flight to Mexico from UK is about 2.3 tonnes per person (online calculator)
So assuming a density of around 2000 tree/acre for broadleaved woodland and assuming you go on expecdition each year you'd need to plant 230 trees over a tenth of an acre each trip.

So your $50 has to buy 230 saplings, buy/lease 1/10 of an acre for a year and pay someone to plant them plus presumably a bit of land management?

What have I got wrong?
 

Rob

Well-known member
...
I think the UK emits about 5 tonnes per person per year. Which if I get the maths means you should be planting about 250 trees a year per person.....
Trees are really quite heavy, and I thought they are mostly made from carbon, so how indeed does your maths work? Sorry, possibly a dumb question?
 

Fjell

Well-known member
The real issue is the UK’s total energy system is a very hefty piece of kit and only massive reengineering and reconstruction will affect the outcome. It will cost trillions. If you are not involved in engineering or constructing it then you are realistically just a passenger. If you are actively opposing new construction then you are a problem. The faster this happens, the less we will emit - and those savings will utterly dwarf any “offsetting”.

It has to be based on reality not whimsy. A current example is opposing developing the (very small) remaining gas reserves that will all be exhausted long before 2050. If we don’t it has to be replaced with LNG, which has total emissions even higher than coal. This is not done instead of other investment, it is on top of it. Despite the best efforts of some to fool people, the government does not pay for it. It also makes the country less poor so there is more money for other stuff. It’s just the maths. Luckily, Norway is busy developing new gas fields to sell it to us - it’s made them eyewateringly rich.
 

Rob

Well-known member
... . If we don’t it has to be replaced with LNG, which has total emissions even higher than coal...
Really? Not wanting to nit pick, but I thought LNG was mostly methane which, because it has much shorter hydrocarbon chains than coal, has a lot less carbon emitted per Joule of energy realised. Like nearly 50% less?
 

Fjell

Well-known member
Really? Not wanting to nit pick, but I thought LNG was mostly methane which, because it has much shorter hydrocarbon chains than coal, has a lot less carbon emitted per Joule of energy realised. Like nearly 50% less?
Compression, liquification, transport, deliquification. Methane is half coal, liquified methane is triple low pressure methane. If the process used renewables, then this would be greatly reduced. But the blunt truth is that most existing trains burn gas and don’t recover CO2. And given they are like $10bn a pop, people are unlikely to build replacement trains for fun.
 

Fjell

Well-known member
The loss of Russian gas has hammered EU emissions. But not the UK, which is getting it’s gas from where it always has. But since most people decline to include the producer emissions, you might not see it.

Qatar emits 33t per head compared to 5 in the UK. Mmmmm……..

You can fool most of the people, most of the time. It is not a subject any politician wants to talk about.
 

Flotsam

Active member
Can we try and keep this thread on the topic of offsetting expedition emissions, rather than global energy politics in general?

Feel free to open another thread for more general discussions, but I'm interested in Badlad's initial question!
So you wish to limit responses to those who believe carbon offsetting is worthwhile for a bit of a jaunt abroad?

It sums up the problem with the Green agenda IMO. Only if you agree with the proposition can one comment.
 

aricooperdavis

Moderator
So you wish to limit responses to those who believe carbon offsetting is worthwhile for a bit of a jaunt abroad?
I want to be able to read about carbon offsetting for expeditions in a thread titled "carbon offsetting for expeditions" without having to trawl through posts discussing the re-engineering of the UK's energy infrastructure. I also made it very clear that I'm happy for those discussions to happen, just ideally not in this thread please.

In terms of the general debate, carbon offsetting for flights and so on doesn't really work. Better to minimise air travel, and be sure you are happy to justify it when you do choose to fly.
Absolutely agreed, I wouldn't want offsetting (which is fraught with complications, as discussed) to make choosing to fly easier. But if you're going to fly what harm is there in giving money to a reputable scheme that will all least make an effort to account for some of those greenhouse gas emissions?
 

Fjell

Well-known member
I want to be able to read about carbon offsetting for expeditions in a thread titled "carbon offsetting for expeditions" without having to trawl through posts discussing the re-engineering of the UK's energy infrastructure. I also made it very clear that I'm happy for those discussions to happen, just ideally not in this thread please.


Absolutely agreed, I wouldn't want offsetting (which is fraught with complications, as discussed) to make choosing to fly easier. But if you're going to fly what harm is there in giving money to a reputable scheme that will all least make an effort to account for some of those greenhouse gas emissions?

You are prob in a position to work on projects that would make a far bigger difference than a few trees purely in terms of emissions, and no doubt already have done. Technical offsetting if you like. For me it’s the same subject, but it’s not (for obvious reasons) a viewpoint you will get in the media. I know that I have made personal interventions that add up to thousands of times more than my lifetime emissions. Many of which I got no thanks for I can tell you. My eldest did mech eng and I naturally told him to build something rather than witter. There is huge scope.
 

nobrotson

Active member
GPF are currently looking at developing an approach to ensuring that expeditions who minimise their carbon use are recognised for this effort when their applications for funding are considered. It will be focused on travel as that is where most emissions arise from in any expedition. Wookey did some initial research into this and found that equipment emissions are basically negligible. I largely agree that carbon offsetting is performative at best and harmful at worst. Most of the time the cost of the credits is so little that there's no way it can make a tangible difference.

There needs to be a change in approach from those going caving abroad. We should focus on exploring cave in destinations which can be reached easily without flying. We are fortunate, as European cavers, that you do not need to travel long distances to reach amazing unexplored caving areas. Austria, where I have found kilometres of new cave both with UK cavers and locals and which still has huge untapped potential, is a days travel from London by train (London - Salzburg in under 12 hours), and is a day or two to get to with a car or by bus. There is really no reasonable justification for flying. This also applies to northern Spain, which is reachable on a ferry from Portsmouth in 24 hours and by driving overland in a similar time. Many caving regions in southern France can be reached by train from London in under 8 hours, some in under 6.

In this spring's funding round, GPF only funded 2 expeditions to areas outside of Europe: the DEEP trip to Dara cave in Lebanon and the North Peru trip (I'm not counting Mulu, which has its own fund, or the Shepton Thailand trip, which actually happened in Jan - Feb 2023 but then needed funding later). Of these, DEEP was focussed on helping local Lebanese cavers to scientifically document a cave system which is threatened by industrial quarrying. All the caving hardware (I think) was going to be left in Lebanon after the expedition ended. This is the sort of trip which I think it is worth flying to do, and it also counters the sadly more common colonial attitude that expeditions to countries in the Global South frequently adopt (thankfully this is much less the case in caving than in climbing or mountaineering, but it is still prevalent). Mulu and Meghalaya are other expeditions which continue to develop links with local cavers, and thus enable them to explore their own regions, to differing degrees of success, and I think that Pete's trip to Peru hoped to do the same (hope they are successful).

As BabyHagrid says, better to facilitate local people who want to explore cave in destinations which can't be reached without flying than repeatedly making massive trips. Caving is just a hobby, and I personally don't want my hobby to prop up the aviation industry if it doesn't need to. I personally don't see that 'science' justifies these big flights either - lets be honest, cave science is really not that important in the grand scheme of things. This research can definitely wait until we've got emissions under control and have tech that allows us to travel there without such crazy emissions.

Of the European trips funded by GPF in that round, only the CUCC expo specifically aims to reduce carbon emissions by encouraging attendees not to fly. I would welcome other European expeditions doing the same, and as I say GPF may well soon adopt policies which encourage this as well.
 

David Rose

Active member
Aviation accounts for approximately 2.5% of global carbon dioxide emissions. A fact worth bearing in mind.

By all means plant some trees in Derbyshire or Sussex. But if you're going caving in a tropical area such as Mulu, a rather larger issue makes itself plain: the destruction of the vast carbon sink that is the Borneo rainforest. According to the UN Environment Programme, this has finally started to slow. But new palm oil plantations are still replacing forests that are thousands of years old. About half the forest cover of the island has been destroyed.

The example of Costa Rica shows that this process can be reversed. Its forest cover hasn't recovered to the 75% seen in the 1940s. But following a series of ambitious government programmes, having fallen to below 50% in 1987 it's now above 60% and rising.

The politics of all this are complicated and vexed. But worth researching, and then pondering how one might make a difference.
 

nobrotson

Active member
https://ourworldindata.org/co2-emissions-from-aviation - a good place to start if anyone is unsure about the carbon impacts of aviation.

For me, a big reason to boycott aviation is that there is no effort from the industry or government to try and reduce aviation emissions, and the industry repeatedly refuses to engage in the issue. Aviation frequently escapes regulation when it is most needed and the industrial aviation lobby is very powerful. Boycotting flying is one of the most meaningful ways you can individually reduce your carbon emissions without really losing out - alternative forms of transport exist, and they are in my view far more pleasant.

There are also other negative aspects to aviation than the climate stuff. Take airports and the atmosphere that exists within them: aside from being absolutely soul-destroying places, there is worryingly little scrutiny of the unfettered control that airports exert over the people in them (unless they are very rich). There are often no taps (especially since covid), so you have to pay for water (complete bullshit). Food is abysmal and massively overpriced. Security and surveillance exists at unprecedented levels, and the amount of bureaucracy is utterly insane. Contrast this with getting the Eurostar, which is infinitely easier and nicer. Airports are essentially the type of place we would all live in if corporations could get away with what they liked, sucking resources out of local economies and providing services which do not benefit most of the people that live near them. They are also not technically part of whatever country they are sited in, meaning that governments can try out mass surveillance technologies without due scrutiny and can detain migrants etc at will without any democratic oversight (see here for an overview of this). Its this sort of thing that Liz Truss aimed to introduce with her 'free ports' idea when she was PM.

I hate airports. Why would I want to support airports with my hobby?
 

Fjell

Well-known member
Aviation accounts for approximately 2.5% of global carbon dioxide emissions. A fact worth bearing in mind.

By all means plant some trees in Derbyshire or Sussex. But if you're going caving in a tropical area such as Mulu, a rather larger issue makes itself plain: the destruction of the vast carbon sink that is the Borneo rainforest. According to the UN Environment Programme, this has finally started to slow. But new palm oil plantations are still replacing forests that are thousands of years old. About half the forest cover of the island has been destroyed.

The example of Costa Rica shows that this process can be reversed. Its forest cover hasn't recovered to the 75% seen in the 1940s. But following a series of ambitious government programmes, having fallen to below 50% in 1987 it's now above 60% and rising.

The politics of all this are complicated and vexed. But worth researching, and then pondering how one might make a difference.
When I went back to live in Miri 10 years ago I was unprepared for how bad it had got. It’s a shocker. There is almost nothing left. It’s a lot better in Sabah. In unrelated news the erstwhile first minister of Sarawak is believed to be worth about $15bn, no doubt bequeathed to him by a grateful nation for his stalwart 33 years in office.

I flew on about the first commercial flight to Mulu, and flying again 20 years later it was unrecognisable. Bario is about the only place left that looks sort of OK, and that is up on the border - so when you fly there you see the full picture.
 

cap n chris

Well-known member
With around 2,500 coal-fired power stations globally, and (IIRC) something in the order of another 200+ currently being built in China alone, and just 2 coal-fired power stations in the UK I think we can all safely concede that anything this country does to attempt to pander to the EcoNutters that live among us is entirely wasted effort/money/debate. China manufactures almost everything the planet consumes and capitalism consumerism isn't going to cease therefore, logically, nor are the results of coal-fired power station(s) emissions. I think the expression "go figure" springs neatly to mind. Me, I'm doing precisely zero, and forever will, to pander to any kind of EcoCrap because I've not produced children so am scot-free of any moral culpability. Whoopee-do.
 

Fjell

Well-known member
However we do need to do something about our energy supply. We started abandoning the major southern North Sea gas fields about 20 years ago and it will hit near zero in next couple of decades. Norway will follow. The only internal options are nuclear and wind with a bit of solar. Coal is unrealistic for many reasons. We really should not accept being reliant on imports to the point of serious economic collapse if it was interrupted.
 

cap n chris

Well-known member
We really should not accept being reliant on imports to the point of serious economic collapse if it was interrupted.
Agree. But we will, won't we. Foregone conclusion most likely. Probably rely on the Good Ol' USofA 'cos they didn't bomb the Europe pipeline for no reason did they?
 
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