The Arctic is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the planet, and, as we wrote in 2020, tourism accounts for more than eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. For travelers who see receding glaciers and start fretting about their own contributions, a few new carbon offset programs in Alaska offer a path to a clear conscience.
Nonprofits in both Juneau and Sitka launched programs that use donations to pay for replacing oil-based heating systems with energy efficient heat pumps that run off renewable hydroelectric power. Donations to the Juneau Carbon Offset Fund and Sitka Carbon Offset Fund stay in their respective communities and provide funding to residents who apply for financial assistance to replace their heating systems. The Juneau fund’s website features a calculator so visitors can determine their emissions based on cruise or air travel, distance traveled, and excursions while visiting, then donate the corresponding amount to offset those emissions.
Alaska Airlines, which has a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, has been partnered with The Good Traveler since 2020. Flyers can simply plug in their departure city, destination, and number of travelers on thegoodtraveler.org and out pops a figure for the appropriate offset purchase.
Eco-conscious travelers can also check if excursion companies have carbon offset partnerships in place. Some businesses that offer tours in Alaska, like the Seward Wilderness Collective and The Boat Company, have set up systems so their guests can make purchases that offset carbon emitted during the tour.