How Do Carbon Offsets Work?
Whenever we use fossil fuels, or any energy produced by them, carbon is emitted. This contributes to the greenhouse gas effect and, as a result, to climate change. While carbon offsets won’t eliminate your carbon emissions, they do “offset” them by reducing emissions elsewhere.
Although the travel industry will still produce emissions regardless of your offset purchasing decisions, we want to empower our guests to recognize and take action on these impacts. We believe this is the first step in harnessing the power of tourism to help save our planet! We’re excited to be offering carbon offsets for two parts of your trip:
Your Flight to Alaska
You can shape the future of Alaska’s travel industry. Flights to Alaska are big emitters, but with Offset Alliance it is super easy to purchase flight offsets (click here!). Your money will help fund the conservation of coastal rainforest in Southcentral Alaska, not far away from us in Seward. (Plus we’ll give you a discount on our tours if you offset your flights. Win-win.)
Your Water Taxi to Aialik Bay
You can offset the carbon emissions of your water taxi ride to Aialik Bay for only $3/person. This goes towards an emissions reduction project through NativeEnergy. They have calculated the emissions of a roundtrip water taxi ride, divided it by our average number of passengers, and come up with the corresponding “cost” to offset your emissions.
Both of the carbon offset organizations support projects that are closely monitored, verified, and receive certifications based on measurable criteria. Their benefits are not only identifiable but also “additional”, meaning that the emissions reductions & projects wouldn’t exist without funding from people like you!
They also have immeasurable positive effects, like cleaner air or water for surrounding communities and positive social impacts, like empowering local people to make decisions that are best for both their families and their environment.
For example, Port Graham, the native corporation which owns the land from where we launch our kayaks in Aialik Bay, has used the carbon marketplace to place land under long-term protection as standing forest. Port Graham sells these carbon offsets on the California carbon market, which has provided income to the native corporation, all while allowing the intact and unique ecosystem to remain pristine and undisturbed. This example hits so close to home, you’ll see the results during your paddle in Aialik Bay!
In 2020, Kayak Adventures’ carbon offset purchases helped fund the Jagers Ranch Grasslands Conservation Project in Colorado, which you can read about here. By avoiding the conversion of this grassland, this important project keeps carbon in the ground while continuing to protect a fragile ecosystem and a diversity of wildlife. Just last year, our guests offset 48 tonnes of CO2; this is the equivalent to planting 800 trees or removing 10 cars from the road for an entire year.
Why do we offer the choice to offset carbon emissions?
We hope that we have inspired questions, curiosity, and action by beginning a dialogue on carbon offsets. Above and beyond anything else we do, encouraging you to have an inquisitive outlook on the world, whether in regards to marine wildlife or our changing climate, is one of our biggest goals.
Many companies are now marketing “carbon neutral” trips. However, we feel that this is misleading, as carbon offsets do not zero out the carbon emissions, they simply mitigate them in a strategic way. While we believe in carbon offsets as a positive thing, we recognize that we still have a significant impact on the world around us.
Furthermore, offering “carbon neutral” kayak tours would have robbed us of an educational opportunity. We think that allowing YOU to make the decision about YOUR carbon footprint is more meaningful. We hope it helps you to see your actions in a new light, and opens up possibilities for how to address your carbon footprint, whether it is your commute to and from work each day, the flight you took to get to Alaska, or the electricity you use from fossil fuel power sources. We are all active participants on this planet and have the opportunity to get engaged in a sustainable way forward.
What Else is Kayak Adventures Worldwide Doing to Address Climate Change?
Although we’re excited to offer carbon offsets for our guests’ flights and our Aialik Bay trips, this is just one small piece of the puzzle of our sustainability initiatives. As members of 1% For the Planet, we donate at least 1% of our sales to Alaskan non-profit organizations working on conservation initiatives relevant to our state. We allow guests to elect which non-profit their contribution goes towards, through our Kayak. Pick. Give. program. Guests select from the Alaska Conservation Foundation, Renewable Energy Alaska Project, and North Gulf Oceanic Society. Each of these organizations has an honorable mission with a focus on a different aspect of environmental stewardship, and provide just a glimpse into the many hardworking non-profits, in Alaska and across the country, who are contributing to a sustainable vision for the planet.
Kayak Adventures is also proud to be Green Star certified, hold a Gold Star certification with Adventure Green Alaska, participate in WhaleSense training, and to uphold and follow Leave No Trace outdoor ethics. These are a few examples of our dedication to sustainability, but feel free to ask your guide about our ongoing initiatives, like eliminating single use plastics, recycling, or our extensive guide training on Alaska’s climate.
And if we’ve piqued your interest in learning about carbon offsets, here are some resources we found interesting and are happy to share with you:
A Complete Guide to Carbon Offsetting by The Guardian
How Carbon Trading Became a Way of Life for California’s Yurok Tribe by The New Yorker
Carbon Offset FAQs by NativeEnergy
Chugach Alaska Corporation Enters Agreement to Sell Carbon Credits to California by Indian Country Today