The price we have to pay

The price we have to pay

From Flights to Fins: Making Sustainable Choices in a Travel-Dependent Industry

I have just booked my flight to the DEMA Show—the world’s largest dive show and industry event. When I made my reservation, I selected Scandinavian Airlines because they now offer travellers the option of purchasing sustainable biofuel as part of the flight ticket, so one can fly with lower CO2 emissions. I also opted to pay for a full carbon offset of my trip. It hurt my wallet, but it lifted the ache I had in my tummy. Being a transatlantic trip, it did not come cheap, but I do not see that one has a choice any longer.

I cannot in good conscience go on and on about how we should protect the environment and do whatever is necessary to save the planet for future generations, and then just climb aboard an intercontinental jet as if it were business as usual. That would make me a hypocrite of the worst kind.

Proven-effective carbon offset

Some sort of proven-effective carbon offset, or purchase of biofuel, should, in fact, be included in the ticket price, because it would be naive to think that more than a few of us would ever voluntarily pay more than strictly necessary for our flights. We all go shopping for bargains or the lowest price. That is how the free market and human minds work.

Such measures would likely make travel significantly more expensive in the short term until the necessary infrastructure has been developed and deployed. But then again, do we really have a choice any longer? I think not.

That being said, I am painfully aware that this position is probably not going to win me many friends in the dive industry which, after all, is largely dependent on a well-functioning travel sector. But we all have to adapt, and the sacrifices we have to make need not be all that hard. It is mainly a matter of priorities, such as giving up or postponing the purchase of another shiny new toy or working a few extra hours. Or it is a shift in perspective. In both the short and long term, it is an investment in us, as a species, and our only home, Earth.

Choose wisely

But we must be selective and choose wisely. Not all carbon offset projects are equal. Some are not effective at all or even add carbon emissions. A recent analysis by The Guardian and Corporate Accountability revealed that the majority of the most frequently used offset projects were “likely junk.” In response to widespread concerns about carbon offsetting credits, new quality standards for the carbon offset industry were published by the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM), so buyers seeking high-quality credits can look for the ICVCM stamp of approval, The Guardian reported earlier this year.

Let us not forget that diving is a luxury, not a necessity like food and clean water, access to medical services, and basic safety. If we want to indulge in our chosen luxuries, we must accept that there will be a price to pay, and it should not be at the planet’s expense.

Right thing to do

Instead, consider it an insurance policy, an investment, a legacy, or a gift to the next generation, our children and grandchildren, and those who are already suffering from the effects of climate heating. They will never forgive us if we do not step up, act and do what is rightfully expected of our generation.

Ensuring that there is some sort of effective carbon offset or sustainable biofuel associated with your purchases of travel, however imperfect the various current schemes may be, is quite a small price to pay in the grander scheme of things. Above all, it is something we can all do.

— Peter Symes

Publisher & Editor-in-Chief