COST VS ENVIRONMENT
posted on Tuesday, April 01, 2008 11:38 PM
It's been over two months now since I left the UK with my backpack, bound for New Zealand. Last time I took a trip of this length my camera would only take 24 photos before it needed a new film, everyone travelled on round-the-world tickets, internet cafes used dial-up connections and carbon offsetting didn't exist. How things have changed. Now I can take a virtually limitless amount of photos, book one-way tickets on low-cost airlines whenever I decide on a date, wireless internet connections are everywhere, and the environment is everyone's concern.
This trip was always going to be made on a tight budget, but I had the best of intentions to minimise my carbon footprint as I travel. It turns out that the best intentions just aren't enough when faced with cheap air travel with proliferant low-cost operators. The UK has Easyjet and Ryan Air. Australia and New Zealand have Virgin Blue, Tiger Airways and Jetstar. Malaysia has Air Asia. My next flight will be from Jakarta, Indonesia to Kota Kinabalau, Malaysia and will cost less than US$30.
Along with reducing the number of flights I take, Carbon Offsetting was also high on my priority list when I left the UK, but as my funds have dwindled it seems less and less likely that I will voluntarily pay money to do this. When I booked my flight from Sydney to Bali with Jetstar last week I even opted not to pay the extra $7 to offset my emissions. That's 2 hrs of internet time in my new cost-conscious world. I've found it remarkably easy over the last year or so to write about our need to offset carbon emissions, travel slowly and shun short-haul air travel, but in reality budget travel decisons are much more driven by cost than environmental concerns. It takes a very hard headed individual to reject travel opportunities in favour of 'doing their bit' for the environment. It is on this basis that environmental concerns must be addressed by corporate and government bodies and not left open to consumer choice.
Carbon offsetting fees should not be optional, they should be included in the cost of a ticket.