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Travel Sustainability Fund

Travel Sustainability Fund

The Air Travel Working Group has established a Travel Sustainability Fund that will invest in best-fit sustainability projects to fully offset the carbon impacts of the University’s air travel. The Travel Sustainability Fund is supported by a Climate Impact Offset charge (CLIO), which is applied to air travel, whether booked or expensed through Concur.

A nominal fee will be used to generate funding to offset Penn’s airfare carbon emissions through purchased offsets given today’s market. The CLIO is subject to change as offset markets shift and other avenues for offsetting are explored.

The CLIO will be applied to air travel whether booked or expensed through Concur.

Carbon Emissions Offsets

Carbon emissions offsets are a tool to address the emissions or other impacts associated with activities that contribute to climate change. While reducing or eliminating the source of carbon emissions should be prioritized, carbon offsets can be useful to organizations seeking carbon neutrality for activities that are very difficult to decarbonize, like air travel. When carbon emissions cannot be eliminated for a certain activity, offsets can be purchased or created to guarantee the avoidance or removal of carbon elsewhere. Offset projects can have benefits beyond carbon emissions reductions; like improving air quality, reducing urban heat island effect, and improving economic conditions for local communities.

It is important that offset projects meet specific criteria to deliver the intended benefits. Third-party verification ensures that the project is real and delivering the claimed benefits. It is also important to ensure that the project is permanent and will exist long enough to reduce the intended amount of emissions. Thirdly, the project must be additional, meaning that it would not have existed without your transaction.

Common Offset Projects

Carbon offsets are a way to balance the emission pollution by investing in projects that reduce or equalize the emissions in the atmosphere.

Offsets cover a wide variety of projects.

Typical carbon offset projects include, but not limited to, planting trees, improved forest management, landfill or other methane gas-to-energy, wetland restoration, and energy efficiency projects. Some offset projects both reduce carbon emissions and provide benefits to human health or other environmental benefits.

Exploring Local Solutions

While carbon neutrality is a priority for Penn, the University is further exploring social, environmental, and economic impacts in our local community. Initially CLIO will offset air travel by purchasing offsets from a market provider. Simultaneously, the Air Travel Working Group, in collaboration with local collaborators, is actively investigating opportunities to develop a measurable, validated local offset program. Such a program would offer Penn the ability to help shape the initiative while offering an enterprising opportunity to a local partner organization.