Travellers willing to pay more to offset carbon, study says

A new study shows people are willing to pay more to offset carbon taxes when flying

Travellers are willing to pay more to offset the carbon emissions of flights finds a new study from Sauder School of Business at the University of British Colombia. Courtesy United Airlines
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Would you pay more to offset the carbon tax of your next flight? According to a new study, most travellers would.

A study by the University of British Columbia in partnership with the US Environmental Defense Fund surveyed over 1,800 participants who were asked their opinion on paying a $14 (Dh51) carbon tax at the same time they purchased a hypothetical airline ticket.

Most travellers are willing to pay a fee to reduce flight emissions when flying so long as they know the money will go directly to carbon reduction programmes, found the study.

It also confirmed that the way in which such fees are described makes a huge difference to how likely travellers are to buy them.

People are much more likely to sign-up to pay an additional fee when such charges are called carbon offsets, rather than a carbon tax.

“Taxes feel like you’re charging people money for nothing,” said study co-author David Hardisty, “whereas an offset is the idea that, ‘Sure we’re paying, but we kind of have an idea where that payment is going, to make the environment better,’ which is what people want.”

Travellers also tended to opt for more expensive tickets when they were sold with carbon offsets instead of going for much cheaper tickets sold without any offset programme.

The study paves the way for airlines to introduce new carbon offset programmes at a time when the environmental toll of air travel is causing customers to look for ways to offset their emissions.