Government to offset emissions associated with official air travel


The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has announced that he has received Government approval in principle to establish an Irish Government Offsetting Scheme to offset the emissions associated with official air travel by Ministers and Civil Servants.

“The proposed approach to the offsetting scheme will seek to be optimal in terms of administrative efficiency and accountability and will have the added advantage of increasing awareness of the global warming implications of air travel among official travellers and their Departments and Offices” - the Minister said.

A unique aspect of the approach is that emissions from the Government’s passenger aircraft will also be required to be offset.

The Minister - in noting that emissions offsetting does not, in itself, prevent emissions of greenhouse gases - added that - “the scheme provides a framework to understand the sources and possible solutions to climate change by raising awareness, allowing for capacity building and by providing direct or indirect support for sustainable projects”.

“The development of this approach recognises that there are some emissions that are unavoidable in the course of ongoing business activity and enables the Government to demonstrate leadership in offsetting official and business air travel” - the Minister added.

The scheme will require -

  • each official flight to and from Ireland to be recorded
  • CO2 emissions to be calculated based on the total air miles or kilometres travelled - and
  • the total offsetting cost calculated, based on a set price per tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted - the price of which will be determined by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government on an annual basis.

It is proposed that the value of the total offsetting requirement for the year will be invested on behalf of Ireland by the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) in renewable energy and energy efficiency offsetting projects in one or a number of Ireland’s priority least-developed countries.

The scheme will fulfill the Programme for Government and the National Climate Change Strategy 2007-2012 commitments to introduce a carbon-offsetting scheme for all air travel on Government business and will retrospectively account for all official air travel since the coming into office of the Government on 14 June 2007.

The Minister, on finalising the logistical and administrative arrangements for the scheme, will be informing all Government Departments (and Agencies under their aegis) of the detailed arrangements for offsetting their aviation emissions. The scheme will operate on an annual basis starting in 2008.