New Initiative Offsets Carbon Costs of Studying Abroad

February 25, 2008 - News Release

U of G's Centre for International Programs (CIP) is launching the "FairAir" initiative in an effort to help offset the carbon emissions of flights taken by students studying abroad.

In partnership with Planetair, a non-profit organization that sells carbon credits, the centre has set up an online account where students can calculate how much carbon is produced by their air travel and determine the number of credits it would take to offset the emissions.
Students can then choose to buy credits from the organization to offset their flights.

"FairAir" will be launched with a videoconference with Julian Lee, program manager of Planetair, Feb. 28 at 10 a.m. in Rozanksi Hall. Lee will explain the carbon offsetting and take questions from the audience.

Each year between 200 to 250 U of G students travel abroad to study and up to 300 travel abroad for conferences, research, field trips and co-op terms, said study-abroad manager Lisa Blenkinsop

"Studying abroad has so many educational benefits," she said. "We still want to provide students with this great opportunity, but we also want to find ways to reduce the impact that travelling overseas has on the environment."

A typical flight overseas would cost about $50 in carbon credits, she said.

"Because some students might not be able to afford it, the centre also plans to start a scholarship program aimed at funding the purchase of carbon credits."

Planetair puts the carbon credits towards environmental projects across the globe, such as increasing the use of renewable energy in developing countries, she said.

In addition to this new initiative, CIP's website offers tips on ways students can be environmentally conscious while booking their flights. These include booking flights during the day because daytime flying is thought to have less of an impact on the environment than flying at night, and packing light so the plane will burn less fuel. There are also tips on how to be an environmentally responsible tourist by drinking tap water when it is safe to drink rather than bottled water, buying local food and using trains or buses to travel instead of planes.

"We are really trying to focus on reducing the impact students travelling abroad have on the environment not only by offsetting the carbon produced, but also by being environmentally responsible while they are overseas," said Blenkinsop.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982,

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