If you have ever calculated your carbon footprint, you will have noticed that the footprint size jumps considerably when you include air travel. A round-trip flight from Europe to the United States, for example, generates about three tonnes of carbon dioxide per person. In total, the average European generates approximately ten tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum. In comparison, someone from a country such as Ethiopia, which is at the forefront of climate change, has a carbon footprint of just 0.1 tonnes.
The fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector, aviation produces up to 8% of the world’s total emissions, and air travel continues to rise by 4-5% annually. Furthermore, air travel is a luxury that is out of reach for a significant proportion of the world’s population.
In response to Pope Francis’ invitation to us all to acknowledge our environmental responsibility, the Jesuit Provincialate has taken the decision to commit to reflecting critically on its own use of airtravel. As part of this process, the Curia will help offset the costs of air travel by making a regular donation to the Jesuit-led Flights for Forest project. Flights for Forest is a carbon offset scheme developed by the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific, and involves Limerick-born Jesuit, Pedro Walpole SJ The project trains and supports young adults to actively manage and protect vulnerable indigenous forests in parts of the Philippines. The scheme will provide updates every six months on progress, to the Irish Curia.
The Curia envisages that there may also be future scope for supporting Irish based projects actively involved in nature conservation. When he signed the commitment document, the Irish Jesuit Provincial, Fr Leonard Moloney SJ thanked the Jesuits in Asia Pacific and Fr Pedro Walpole SJ for giving us this opportunity to offset our carbon footprint, by supporting their very practical ‘hands on’ work of caring for God’s creation.
The Curia hopes that its decision will inspire and encourage other Jesuit works and communities to critically reflect on their air travel footprint, and undertake similar offsetting initiatives.
Information on Flights for Forest can be found here. And you can view a promotional video of the project here.
This article first appeared on the site of Jesuits in Ireland.