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Do You Pay a Self-Imposed Carbon Tax for Travel? Do You Feel Obligated To?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Travel author – TV personality – tour operator Rick Steves recently announced his company is pledging $1 million each year as a carbon tax.

Many of us travel frequently, if not at least somewhat regularly. Should we pay our own carbon taxes?

The Rick Steves Carbon Tax

Steves writes that “every international flight emits damaging carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to the climate crisis.” But instead of shaming people into not traveling or complaining about frequent flyers somehow ruining everything, Steves takes a different approach.

“Staying home isn’t the answer,” he declares. So he’s pledging a million bucks annually of his tour company’s profits, which is apparently very lucrative. (Note to self: launch The Rene’s Points Travel and Tours company.)

The recommended carbon offset for a roundtrip flight to Europe is $30,” Travel + Leisure’s Cailey Rizzo notes. “Because Rick Steves Europe takes approximately 30,000 travelers to the continent every year, that would add up to $900,000 in annual offsets. The company is rounding up to an even $1 million.”

Steves explains the money goes to “a portfolio of carefully selected nonprofits that fight climate change through government advocacy and on-the-ground work. Our goal: to pay our fair share of the environmental cost that our travelers incur, and to do so in a way that empowers communities throughout the developing world.”

Do Impose a Carbon Tax on Yourself?

I applaud Mr. Steves for putting his money where his mouth is.

Should we fellow travel enthusiasts do something similar? Or should it be left solely to travel providers?

Delta, for its part, has been at least somewhat environmentally active. The Nature Conservancy points out the mothership was the first US airline to launch a carbon offset program. The airline reports they’ve purchased over 12 million tons of carbon offsets “MORE THAN ANY OTHER GLOBAL CARRIER,” they proudly tout. Delta is also investing in a biofuel made from forest floor debris.

That being said, do you somehow atone for the carbon footprint produced by your travels? Do you feel you should? If so, what and how?

Please share your thoughts in the Comments section.

Cover photo credit: ©iStock.com/SCI_InDy

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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15 Comments

  1. No, because it’s not doing any harm. Nobody can prove that climate change is related to carbon emissions.

  2. Hey Chris,

    Just a heads up that since yesterday, I have been getting 2 emails for each of your posts.

  3. Andy Dufresne

    No because every day thousands of aircraft circumnavigate the globe and emit whatever they do or don’t whether i am sitting in one or not. Paying a tax so that I can virtue signal and contribute to a lobby group that just wants to make everything everyone buys cost more isn’t going to make a difference.

  4. No. The whole thing is idiotic. The planes are flying whether I’m on it or not.

  5. Lots of BS virtue signaling. Delta doesn’t care one bit about the environment. They care about keeping the peace and continuing to print money.
    This is lame.

  6. offsets make you feel better but you (and me) are still a polluting pig. just cut down or eliminate your pollution if possible.

  7. You are brave to raise this topic. Global warming is a hot topic (ahem) because it affects us in the near term as climate changes go. Global warming, though, is just the tip of the iceberg:) Jokes aside, there may be much truth to the premise behind the 2008 movie The Day The Earth Stood Still. Planes, fossil fuels, plastic bags are just symptoms of the root cause – us. People aren’t just warming the planet. They are slowly destroying it. An ever increasing human population is consuming finite resources at an ever increasing rate. At what point does human consumption become unsustainable? Taxes won’t help that. Many can’t deal with the fact we affect our climate much less my sci-fi inspired prophecy of doom and gloom. Maybe Thanos got a bad rap. Have a nice day.

  8. @john: When my wife asks “When are we having another child?” I’m going to say, “John said overpopulation is killing the planet.” Thanks, John! I owe ya one! 😉

  9. Jackson Rogers

    Just lost a ton of respect for Rick Steves. I understand businesses doing things for optics sake but giving credence to something like this is foul. If you want to stop pollution complain about China who is the world’s biggest polluter. But no we are not allowed to be honest or logical so we are supposed to pretend banning mini toiletries and flagellating ourselves with this nonsense helps.

  10. I don’t purchase carbon offsets. It just helps naive, stupid people feel better about themselves. I’m sure most of the “do gooders “ at the Google carbon convention bought offsets for all there private jets.
    Problem is, they could have flown commercial and bought the offsets too. That way they could really feel good about themselves. They won’t suffer to help the environment; that’s for everyone else.
    Buy the way, paper straws are disgusting.

  11. The carbon self-tax thing is just a way to keep eco-activists from extorting companies. The whole thing is a hoax designed to enrich the elite who won’t let anything interfere with their own lifestyles

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