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Purchasing Carbon Offsets


Among the sources of atmospheric carbon dioxide for which I am directly
responsible, business travel is the only one that I have very little
control over. My job at NCAR requires me to travel internationally from
time to time, and this is one of my largest sources of climate-changing

I recently learned about a Web site where I can calculate the approximate
CO2 impact of my international business travel and then purchase “carbon
offsets” that are used to support the construction of new wind farms. (See The typical cost to offset a round trip to
Europe is about $30.

I purchased the offsets personally for my most recent business trip, but I
wonder if UCAR/NCAR would consider either reimbursing travelers for this
type of expense, or providing a checkbox on the travel authorization form
that would allow travelers to request carbon offsets for their flights,
which could then be purchased in bulk by the organization annually.

Answered on March 02, 2007


Thanks for your suggestion. Similar suggestions have occurred in the past.

Unfortunately, the purchase of carbon offsets would not be an allowable
cost under our federal government funding (Office of Management and Budget
Circular A-122), so it would not be a reimbursable expense. UCAR could
legally use its private funds for this purpose, but these funds are very
limited and are used to support a number of key NCAR and UOP programs and

Also, supporting worthwhile causes such as this particular one would open
up requests for contributions to other such programs and charities, and our
private funds could not support all of these requests. Instead, we suggest
that employees contribute to those environmental and charitable programs
and activities that they feel most strongly about.

—Katy Schmoll, Vice President, Finance and Administration