So far, less than one percent of customers pay a voluntary tax on climate protection when they board the plane. This is easily possible - there are several online portals that pass the money on to environmental projects. Lufthansa at least encourages customers to pay compensation for the carbon dioxide produced by flying by offering this additional fee when making their online booking. Easyjet has now announced to do this automatically from its own cash register for all passengers. Is it safe to fly on Easyjet?

The offer is aimed at people who care about the climate, but still do not want to give up flying. The airline announced plans to promote projects that help reduce global CO2 emissions. The emission of the climate-damaging gas is thus compensated at another point. Easyjet wants to spend about 30 million euros per year for the compensation.

Easyjet is not responsible for the projects itself - the airline purchases so-called emission reduction certificates from the companies EcoAct and First Climate, which specialize in sustainability consulting and carbon offsetting. First Climate is a German company based in Bad Vilbel, Germany. "We deliver Easyjet emission reduction certificates from a portfolio of 13 certified climate protection projects," says Benjamin Seitz, Communications Division Manager at First Climate.

Projects in South America and Africa are designed to help people on the ground to use their forests so that less forest is cut down. A project in India makes solar energy available to people. It should help to reduce the consumption of electricity from fossil fuels. A project in Uganda and Eritreater to repair wells so that people have clean water without having to boil it, which reduces CO2 emissions again.

Easyjet currently produces 8.5 million tons of CO2 a year. In other words, the company pays less than 3.50 euros of CO2. The Guardian reported that the airline had justified the low price per tonne of CO2 by concluding a three-year contract and a large amount of carbon offsetting. So there is quasi volume discount.

Benjamin Seitz of First Climate explains: The price for emission reduction certificates is made up of the financing of the individual climate protection projects and the transaction costs. "With a large amount of emission reductions - as in the case of Easyjet - the transaction costs are much lower compared to small volumes, such as those used in the private sector."

According to a Study of the NGO Ecosystem Marketplace of 2017, the average price for compensation in the area of ​​voluntary compensation is around € 2.70 per tonne. With 2.50 euros price Easyjet would thus even slightly above the average.

Is it safe to board the plane if you also pay for environmental projects? "Flying still causes high levels of CO2 and you should always try to choose different modes of transport," says Constantin Zerger, Division Manager Energy and Climate Protection at Deutsche Umwelthilfe. "You can not fly again with a clear conscience."

Although the emissions are compensated elsewhere, they are created in the first step. From the point of view of the experts, the capacity to offset emissions elsewhere will eventually reach their limits. "The further we progress in climate protection, the more difficult it will be to compensate for emissions," says Zerger. "That's why the ultimate goal should be to avoid and reduce emissions."

Flying ash is the exception

Even with Easyjet, those responsible are aware that the mission problem with the compensation is not solved. "The compensation measures are only a temporary solution until other technologies are available that radically reduce the CO2 emissions of flying," says Easyjet CEO Johan Lundgren.

There are people who personally deliberately do without flies, the young environmentalist Greta Thunberg is a role model in this field. But this, also due to the so-called flight shame conditional behavior is the exception. "If you look at the numbers, Flugschambisher is a niche phenomenon," says Eric Heymann, an analyst at Deutsche BankResearch. Passenger numbers continued to grow over the summer months. This is also evident in Easyjet: In the last financial year, which ended at the end of September, 96.1 million passengers flew with the airline - an increase of 8.6 percent compared to the previous year.

It is unlikely that Easyjet's announcement will impact rising passenger numbers in the future. "The ticket price is the most important decision criterion for many passengers," says analyst Heymann. It is therefore questionable whether you attract many new customers with a markup for the good conscience. Easyjet took this into account: nothing is changed for passengers, not even airfare, according to the website.

In general, compensation measures are very good for the image of airlines, says analyst Heymann. He can imagine that airlines will do more for climate protection soon. "The airlines will remain in the focus of climate policy," says Heymann. Air traffic is becoming more visible and is receiving more political and media attention than, for example, the fact that people are living in ever larger apartments or are increasingly running electrical appliances. Easyjet is unlikely to be the last airline to make a fortune in compensating for climate change.