Get Smart for a Sustainable Future: Carbon Offsets for Air Travel

News December 2022

September 14, 2023

The DGA’s Sustainable Future Committee wants to help raise awareness of what productions can do to reduce carbon emissions and waste in film and television production to mitigate the adverse impacts on the environment. Here we look at how carbon offsets for air travel can help achieve that goal.

Air travel is one of the most pollution emitting forms of transport. Air travel not only releases CO2 but also nitrogen oxide contrails which contribute twice as much to global warming as aircraft CO2. Aircraft take-offs are the most carbon polluting moment in air travel — so direct flights are essential whenever possible. In an ideal world we should reduce air travel. However, we work in a global film and television industry. Flying is often unavoidable. So how do we mitigate the real harm our air travel causes? Carbon offsets are one possible answer.

A carbon offset does not completely counter the emissions of your flight but as we wait for climate-friendly alternatives (e.g., Sustainable Aviation Fuel is coming) it is an action you can take to mitigate the environmental damage of your trip.

A carbon offset or carbon credit is used to offer a reduction in carbon emissions by investing in an increase in carbon storage into long lived reservoirs of carbon, such as trees, soils, and wetlands — or by reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases from such sources as landfills, farms, and coal mines. Other offsets subsidize solar and wind power projects for vulnerable communities around the world to offset emissions that occur elsewhere — such as those emitted on your flight.

The effectiveness of these efforts must be continually reassessed. For example, reforestation may no longer be the best use of carbon offsets – as forests are increasingly shifting from being a reliable carbon “sink” to instead become carbon “sources” as climate change drives wildfires.

Many airlines provide an option to buy a carbon offset on their website. The cost of carbon offsets is typically $10-20 per ton of CO2 equivalents. It should be noted that flying premium is more carbon polluting than economy by allotting more space to transport fewer passengers. Both EQUITY and the UK’s ALBERT offer a Green Rider which allows actors and filmmakers to consider the carbon impact of all requests made by and of the production — including air travel — to help reduce the production’s footprint wherever possible.

There are also many organizations where you can purchase carbon offsets. Here are a few to consider:

For people who want to help fund broader emission reduction efforts, certifications from watchdog groups like and can help identify worthwhile projects.

The Gold Standard and most others also offer personal carbon calculators so that you can also offset your other activities that produce significant emissions such as driving a gasoline-powered car. Use the calculator to estimate the emissions that you cannot fully avoid and buy the appropriate quantity of offsets.

For now, the best thing any individual can do remains what it has always been: Try to emit less (and fly less).

For more details on Carbon Offsets for Air Travel, see the articles linked below:







Click here for more about the DGA Sustainable Future Committee.