June 25, 2008

DIA Rethinks Carbon Offsets

By Chris Walsh

Denver International Airport is reassessing its plan to offer travelers the option of purchasing carbon offsets, citing a lackluster response from companies and organizations that would provide the service.

This year, the airport issued a formal request for proposals from those interested in setting up and running the program, which would allow passengers to invest in projects that could help negate their share of the environmental damage caused by air travel.

But DIA said it received only one proposal.

"We took into account whether the response was viable, but the fact that there was only that one proposal is making us go back and review our strategy," said Jeff Green, a spokesman for the airport.

DIA is exploring its next step, which could involve redefining the program and then soliciting proposals again, partnering with airlines or scrapping it entirely.

DIA's initial plan called for a company or organization to provide offsets through kiosks, booths, computer terminals or other means in all three concourses.

Under similar programs - which are offered primarily online - passengers can calculate their share of carbon emissions for each plane trip they take. They can then pay anywhere from a few bucks to more than $50 to "offset" those emissions.

The money typically is pumped into projects such as installing solar panels in Third World countries or planting trees in areas devastated by logging.

DIA had hoped to have the program running in time for the Democratic National Convention in August, in part to help showcase the city's environmental efforts.

At one point Denver-based Frontier Airlines also planned to let its customers buy carbon offsets through its Web site. But the carrier filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April. It continues to operate as it restructures but has suspended the carbon offset plan indefinitely.

Originally published by Chris Walsh, Rocky Mountain News.

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