Carbon Offsets Take Flight

Many airlines now offer passengers the option of compensating for carbon emissions via tree-planting and other programs. Should they just fly less?

For as little as $2, an eco-conscious passenger flying on Continental Airlines (CAL) can cancel out the damage they may be doing to the ozone layer. That's how much it costs to purchase a "carbon offset" to pay for planting trees. Or, they can contribute $50 or more toward a renewable-energy project such as solar or wind power. Both options are provided to passengers when they book through the airline's Web site. "Our customers tell us they want to minimize their impact on the environment, and we want to give them the tools," says Leah Raney, managing director of global environmental affairs for Continental.

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