HOUSTON, May 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Sustainable Travel International and Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAL) today announced plans to offer customers the option to participate in a carbon offsetting program. The voluntary program will allow travelers to calculate the carbon footprint of their booked itinerary and purchase carbon offsets online from non-profit Sustainable Travel International.
Proceeds from purchased offsets are invested by Sustainable Travel International into high-impact sustainable development projects, including reforestation, renewable energy and energy conservation. These projects, which also benefit local communities, are located all over the world. Customers will have the option of selecting which kind of program they would like their carbon offsets to benefit.
Sustainable Travel International provides carbon offset projects that are independently verified by third-party sources. The projects must verifiably reduce greenhouse gas emissions according to the CDM Gold Standard, consistent with the principles of the Kyoto Protocol, or have Green-e certification from the Center for Resource Solutions. Sustainable Travel International recently received the highest ranking in an independent study of carbon offsetting programs commissioned by the environmental group Clean Air-Cool Planet.
Continental is Sustainable Travel International's first airline partner. The organization also works with the World Wildlife Fund, National Geographic, Whole Foods Market, Ben & Jerry's, the Coca-Cola Company, and numerous other environmentally committed companies.
"Continental's thorough, substantive approach to the concerns of climate change and longstanding environmental commitment prove that Continental is an industry leader in this field, and we are proud to join with them on this venture," Sustainable Travel International President Brian T. Mullis said. "We look forward to helping Continental customers protect the environment by supporting high impact renewable energy and energy efficiency projects around the world."
The carbon offsetting option will be available on continental.com for customers starting in late summer 2007. Moving forward, Continental will work with Sustainable Travel International to continually refine the program to address environmental concerns and continue to meet the needs of our customers.
"The world's climate is an important issue for Continental and for our customers, and we want to offer a credible, global, high-quality option for offsetting emissions," Continental Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Larry Kellner said. "To complement our existing environmental initiatives, we have carefully reviewed options for carbon offsetting programs and we are proud to offer this option in partnership with Sustainable Travel International, whose international focus and high standards are an excellent fit for Continental and our customers."
Continental is committed to promoting environmental responsibility within its culture and is committed to reducing environmental impacts. To support that goal, the airline in mid-2006 launched an extensive internal review of existing environmental procedures, along with a comprehensive review of future possibilities, including carbon offset programs.
Continental has achieved an almost 35 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption per revenue passenger mile flown over the past 10 years. This is due in large part to the efforts of its employees in streamlining operational procedures and to an investment of more than $12 billion to acquire 270 fuel-efficient aircraft and related equipment. Continental also has reduced by approximately 75 percent nitrogen oxide emissions from ground equipment at the carrier's largest hub, in Houston, through switching to electric ground service equipment and other new technology. This technology is now being tested for use in cold climates.
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Aviation expert Mike Boyd said he thought high-profile announcements by airlines are akin to building a firebreak to show the industry is taking some action.