Holidaymakers flying to the sun this summer are being are being encouraged to consider 'carbon offsetting' as way of reducing the environmental impact of their holiday travel by Environment Minister Elliot Morley.

Carbon dioxide emissions from aeroplanes are a growing contributor to climate change, and emissions from air travel can form a large part of the environmental impact of holidaymaking. Carbon off-setting enables airline passengers to donate money to schemes which reduce carbon emissions either in this country or overseas.

The UK has decided to offset the carbon dioxide emissions arising from the G8 this year and Whitehall departments will be offsetting their air flights from April next year. Mr Morley said: "Large numbers of Britons head for their well-earned holidays at this time of year and flying by air can deliver them safely to exciting destinations at great speed. "But there is an environmental cost; in particular, flying has a significant environmental impact because of the distances covered and the amount of CO2 emitted; there is also much scientific opinion which believes that emitting these gases at high altitude increases the climate change impact. For example, a return transatlantic flight can produce up to two tonnes of carbon dioxide per passenger.

"Obviously a great many things individuals do, both essential and for pleasure, cause emissions, not all of which can be offset; however, I would ask travellers to consider whether, in addition to enjoying their holidays, they counter some of the environmental damage by subscribing to one of the offset schemes available.

"It's relatively cheap, for example, to offset the climate change impact of a flight to the Mediterranean only costs around £5 to offset." Government have tackled climate change at the G8 Summit, where leaders reached significant agreement on climate change with an agreed a Plan of Action focused on things we can do right now. The inclusion of aviation emissions within the EU-Emissions Trading Scheme is a priority for the UK presidency of the EU.

Carbon offsetting is one of a number of ways in which holidaymakers can make their tourism more sustainable. Sustainable tourism means taking responsibility for your actions to make sure that the social, environmental and economic impacts of overseas travel are positive ones i.e. minimises negative impacts on local cultures, the environment, natural resources and on wildlife habitats and species. Offsetting schemes are available from several companies including Climate Care and Future Forests. (see http://www.climatecare.org and http://www.futureforests.com)