Loyola University Chicago

Institute of Environmental Sustainability

Carbon Offsets


In meeting the goals of “A Just Future”, Loyola’s Climate Action Plan, the University recognizes that one of the most significant sources of carbon pollution is air travel.

Airplanes use petroleum-based fuels which are combusted at ground-level and high-elevations. During combustion, these release emissions including particulates “soot”, carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxides, lead and black carbon which can increase cases of respiratory health incidents and localized pollutions. Additionally, at high-elevations, the emissions cause ‘radiative forcing’ which increases the amount of sunlight absorbed by the earth. This is thought to increase emissions 2 – 4 X the impact of CO2 emissions alone.

A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated that aviation is responsible for 3.5% of anthropogenic climate change and it could grow to 5% by 2050 if not addressed.

Emissions of passenger aircraft vary extensively but a LIPASTO survey of average direct emissions (not including radiative forcing) estimate the following per passenger;

  • Domestic, short distance – 14.7 oz/mile CO2e
  • Domestic, long distance – 10.1 oz/mile CO2e
  • International, long distance – 6.5 oz/mile CO2e

Reducing Emissions Options

  • Measure your carbon footprint: There are many carbon calculators available online but we recommend this one. 

  • Reduce your air travel:
    • Reconsider the value of your air travel. For most we consider this an indicator of status, wealth, or value but many trips are unnecessary. There are many ways to remain connected to colleagues, academic communities, and loved ones without always being somewhere in person.

    • Options may include alternative modes of transportation including driving (may have a reduced carbon footprint if fuel efficient and shared by multiple passengers), virtual or tele-conferencing including webinars, Skype and other technology, and limiting air travel budgets (many of these costs are borne by the university or grant funding).

    • A very good source of information on air travel and academia can be found in this blog co-hosted by Joseph Nevins (Vassar College) and Parke Wilde (Tufts University).

  • Make the most of your air travel
    • Fly coach. The miles associated with business class seats emit three times as much as economy class due to the reduced passengers per mile. A first-class seat would be nine times as much.

    • As with much of sustainability, we encourage a deeper and more intentional experience. Flights, and short visits, are often a necessity of convenience. Try to expand your stay to accomplish multiple personal and professional goals. Don’t ‘fly-in and fly-out’ but stay awhile.

  •  Offset your air travel emissions:
    • There are many options for offsetting your carbon emissions. Always confirm that you are purchasing third-party verified offsets which are “retired” upon your purchase.

    •  Offerings by your travel provider – Your airline, travel aggregator (eg. Travelocity, Orbitz, etc.) or travel agent may offer offset options often calculating carbon footprint directly from your travel plans.

  • Purchasing carbon offsets to address a single trip or project – The options listed below are available to provide verified carbon-reducing or avoiding projects.

Carbon Offset Providers