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Helsinki University compensates for air travel emissions

Published : 14 Nov 2019, 01:34

  DF Report

Press Release Photo by University of Helsinki.

The University of Helsinki has decided to use shared funds to compensate for the emissions generated by its employees’ air travel in 2018, said a press release of the University.

The University will pay as compensation a sum that is equivalent to approximately one per cent of its airline ticket purchases.

In 2018 the total amount of kilometres flown with tickets purchased from CWT, the University’s partner travel agency, was 52.3 million, which generated 4,503 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

Compensation for the emissions caused by air travel in 2018 has been allocated to a Gold Standard certified project to be carried out in Kenya, close to the University’s Taita Research Station.

These air travel emissions have been compensated by supporting the Simba Hills Improved Cookstoves project carried out in Kenya, aimed at purchasing efficient stoves for Kenyan families.

The new stoves will halve the consumption of firewood, leaving more time for other household work as well as childcare and education instead of gathering wood.

“An important factor in choosing the target was that it is located close to the Taita Research Station of the University of Helsinki in Kenya. This makes visiting the compensation project easy and the emissions generated by related travel small,” said Tom Böhling, vice-rector in charge of sustainability and responsibility at the University.

The Simba Hills Improved Cookstoves project has received the Gold Standard certification, an internationally accredited certification also approved by WWF Finland. The certification guarantees that emission compensations are permanent and genuinely brought about by compensation activity, not, for example, through legislation, taxation or subsidies.

“We recommend that each trip should be carefully considered and, for example, that the possibility of relying on video conferencing instead of travelling should be looked into. Work-related travel in Finland should be conducted by train, and we are also investigating the possibility of substituting transit flights abroad with journeys by train. Compensating for the climate effects of travel is only used as a last resort,” Böhling said.

Compensation for the climate effects of work-related travel will continue in the coming years. The goal is to establish a model that makes air travel emissions and compensation an integral part of the process of considering travel needs and selecting modes of transport.