Called Climate Passport, this is the first program of its kind in U.S. airports. Three new Climate Passport kiosks are now available at SFO after security check-in on both sides of the International Terminal and in Terminal 3.
Travelers can also access the Climate Passport through SFO's website at: http://sfo.3degreesinc.com.
"We created a program that enables travelers to voluntarily offset the emissions from their trip through supporting local projects that reduce greenhouse gases," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. "The Climate Passport kiosks are good for the climate and for San Francisco's economy."
Using the kiosks or the website, travelers can figure out the carbon footprint of their flights to determine the amount of carbon offsets (aka, Verified Emission Reductions or VERs) needed to address the greenhouse gas impact.
Plane takes off from San Francisco International Airport (Photo by Tom Lohdan)
On the website and at the kiosks, travelers can either enter their flight numbers and determine the exact number of miles, or approximate how far their flight will take them.
For instance, a passenger flying from San Francisco to Chicago travels approximately 1,860 miles - a medium-length trip that emits about 1,869 pounds of carbon dioxide and would cost $11.44 to offset.
When the amount is set, the information goes to 3Degrees, a local San Francisco carbon and renewable energy marketing firm that manages the Climate Passport kiosks.
3Degrees then sources carbon offsets from The Conservation Fund's Garcia River Forest Project and the San Francisco Carbon Fund, to reduce greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere by an amount equivalent to that passenger's trip.
"This is a unique opportunity to support pioneering projects that are making a meaningful contribution to California's aggressive climate change goals," said Dan Kalafatas, president of 3Degrees.
Carbon offsets for Climate Passport are sourced from projects that result in real, quantifiable, permanent greenhouse gas emission reductions and are third-party verified against the Climate Action Reserve, a rigorous, objective and transparent standard for offsets from forestry projects.
All projects from 3Degrees must pass a test that ensures the air travel carbon offset sales are critical to a project's existence.
Climate Passport also allocates $1.50 per ton of all offset sales to the San Francisco Carbon Fund, a city-run fund that invests in greenhouse gas reduction projects within San Francisco.
The first project of the San Francisco Carbon Fund is Dog Patch Biofuels, San Francisco's only publicly-owned biodiesel filling station and eco-friendly convenience store in the southeast sector of the city. The filling station at 765 Pennsylvania Ave. between 22nd and 23rd streets carries B100 biodiesel from local and recycled sources.
The climate benefits from this project result from replacing petro diesel in local vehicle fleets with cleaner, sustainable recycled biodiesel. The San Francisco Carbon Fund project is expected to eliminate up to 660,000 pounds of carbon dioxide in its first year of operation.
Information on San Francisco Carbon Fund projects, methods, and funding opportunities are online at the "Our City's Programs" page of www.sfenvironment.org.
SFO travelers' carbon offsets also benefit the Garcia River Forest, a forest management project located in Mendocino County managed by the nonprofit Conservation Fund.
Dominated by native redwood and Douglas fir trees, Garcia River Forest is recognized by the California Department of Fish and Game as a high priority for protection and recovery of the state and federally-listed endangered coho salmon and steelhead trout. The forest is inhabited by Northern spotted owls and other rare plants and animals.
"Garcia River Forest is a pathbreaking project that achieves multiple goals - increased sequestration and storage of carbon in native forests, wildlife habitat restoration and a sustainable supply of certified wood products that benefit the local economy," said Chris Kelly, California program director for The Conservation Fund. "Carbon offsets have true value and are a key part of making this project a success."
John Martin, director of San Francisco International Airport, said, "We happily support this program that offers our passengers a way to take action and reduce their carbon footprint. This is one of many projects at the airport that will have real, substantive impact on reducing greenhouse gases."
Copyright Environment News Service, ENS, 2009. All rights reserved.