What is climate change/global warming and why is it a problem?

While the Earth's climate have always changed throughout our planet's history, today the term "climate change" is generally used to refer to changes in climate patterns during the past 100 years that are increasingly thought to have been caused by human activities, such as burning fossil fuels when we drive our cars or fly in an airplane or simply using electricity generated by coal fired power plants.

These activities are increasing the levels of certain naturally occurring gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. These gases (known as "greenhouse gases") retain the heat reflected from the planet's surface which otherwise would be dissipated into space.

In the past there was a balance maintained between the amounts of such gases in the atmosphere; the amount of heat they retained in the Earth's atmosphere; and the maintenance of an acceptable average temperature across the planet to sustain life. The increase in these gases has tipped that balance and the Earth's average temperatures are steadily rising, causing dramatic changes to prevailing weather patterns (climate change). This is what is known as the "Greenhouse Effect."

What is aviation’s impact on Global Warming?

Fuel used by aircraft engines results in carbon dioxide and other substances being released to the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide contributes directly to the greenhouse effect. While other substances emitted (e.g. nitrogen oxides and water vapour) contribute to global warming, their exact impact is still not known.

Aviation is responsible for an estimated 2% - 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions. The best estimate of aviation's climate change impact is about 3.5% of the total contribution by human activities.

What is carbon offsetting?

Carbon offsetting involves investing in projects that prevent or reduce emissions being released thus counterbalancing the emissions associated with your flight. These projects must comply with stringent rules to ensure they are of the highest quality and actually deliver what they promise.

Will offsetting solve the issue of climate change?

Offsetting is only part of a balanced approach to addressing the issue of climate change. While offsetting doesn’t reduce emissions directly, it allows projects to occur that either take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or avoid its release. Offsetting also helps to raise awareness of the issue of climate change and the impact that our lifestyles have on the environment.

The only way to slow or stop temperature rise due to man made activities is to restrict the amount of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere and to examine ways to reduce our emissions as much as possible.

What is the airline doing to address Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

In addition to our carbon offset programs, NatureAir is investing in an integrated management approach, focussing on reducing emissions and maximising efficiency, including:

  • Alternative Energies: Thru our Fuel Aviation Company Aerotica, we have developed and launched Costa Rica’s only private bio-fuel filling station. Thru this program we are able to fuel our company vehicles and equipment using 100% bio-diesel (a mix of vegetable oils and recycled cooking oils). We estimate this will reduce roughly 160 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year alone.
  • Operational: We have worked hard to improve our flight schedules and plans which have helped keep our flights on time and improve fuel efficiencies by over 7% in the last 4 years.
  • Reuse and Recycle: For two years now we have provided recycling bins in our corporate offices and over 80% of the airports we serve.

Can I contribute more than what NatureAir is offsetting for my flight?

Currently, NatureAir is paying to offset your share of the carbon emissions from the flight you are booking (or have booked). In the future, we will offer our guests the ability to offset or additionally contribute to compensation methods used by NatureAir.

Where does the money go to?

As all of our flights are carbon neutral, we provide FONAFIFO at the beginning of each calendar year the data on our fuel consumption for the previous year. Because we offset all of our fuel consumption, the calculation is extremely straightforward. From there, we began reviewing the projects and locations of the projects which have applied for the Forestry Financing Program, these are local landowners that are voluntarily agreeing to conserve their land in exchange for yearly financing which can be used by them how they wish.

Our contributions go towards the administration, analysis and auditing of these lands. Roughly 20% falls into this category while the other 80% goes back to the local landowners.

For more information click on this link to the Ministry of Environment's Peace and Nature Program. For some detailed maps and locations of where our compensation projects are located – you can view maps here.

How do you choose which projects to fund?

We have taken a decision to support Government endorsed projects to ensure that recipient projects have undergone a certification process to verify that the projects abate the claimed amount of emissions.

Can I choose which program my contribution goes to?

Not at this stage, however you can be assured that only Government endorsed projects are supported. This ensures that the project has undergone a certification process to ensure that the project abates the claimed amount of greenhouse.

Does NatureAir make any profit from this transaction?

No. 100% of money collected through our voluntary Carbon Offset Program will go towards compensation projects in Costa Rica. In addition, NatureAir covers all of the administration costs.

Compensation for flight emissions do not erase the fact that we are still emitting CO2, so are we really doing something good?

At NatureAir we take our commitment to minimising any kind of environmental impact of our activities very seriously. To help address climate change we have implemented a range of initiatives to minimise greenhouse gas emissions and we are aiming for a further reduction of our aircraft emissions by up to 4% per aircraft by 2010.

Already we have improved our fuel efficiency by 7% in the last 3 years and are working on compensating our administrative and ground operations emissions.

Carbon offsetting is an important component of our environmental strategy. At the end of the day, flying results in the emission of greenhouse gases no matter how efficient we are. Offsetting is an option that enables us to offset emissions related to flights through Government recognised compensation projects. Such projects also provide other benefits, such as improved biodiversity through forestry projects and contributing to the renewable energy industry.

As airlines, we are well aware of the complexity of the challenge of meeting demand for air travel while working to reduce aircraft emissions at the same time. We believe we can make a step in the right direction and we hope other airlines will follow.

Why do different compensation programs give different prices to offset emissions for the same amount of carbon emitted?

As everybody knows, what we pay for a mango in Costa Rica is much different than what one would pay in Europe. We also understand that other offset programs calculate emissions based on kilometres flown or passenger miles flown of the sold seats- while these methods are a good start, they do not account for the fact that the planet doesn’t care if the plane is full or empty or if the aircraft waited on the runway to take off with its engines running.

Our method states that if we burn it, we will offset it.

We have undertaken an extensive study into our greenhouse gas emissions. The emissions we have attributed to your flights are based on actual fuel use figures over the past calendar year for the sector you are flying.