Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Airline industry proves that consumers want to be green...especially if they are from Byron.

For those of you who don’t know, the Little Green Genie mascot is named Byron after the beautiful Australian town of Byron Bay which has long been considered one of the most environmentally friendly towns in Australia. You can imagine my delight when I discovered that Byron and the airline industry recently proved a very interesting point about consumers willingness to pay to be green, even when their is zero kudos or status attached.

I was recently flying on a Virgin Blue aircraft from the Gold Coast to Sydney. Like most people, I started to read the inflight magazine when I came across a very interesting letter from Virgin Blue’s CEO Brett Godfrey. In this letter, Brett was talking about Virgin Blue’s carbon offsetting scheme which when launched in 2007 made them the first Australian airline to offer such a program. As someone who always offsets their flights whenever possible, I was very interested to learn how these programs work and whether or not other consumers actually care enough (or believe enough in the idea of offsetting) to voluntarily and anonymously offset their airline travel emissions.

To my delight I learned that just over 10% of travelers who book online do offset their flights through Virgin Blue. In total, over 1 million flights have been offset since 2007 raising more than $1.3M for Government certified carbon abatement projects. In total these guys have caused the offset of 102,000 tonnes of Co2 so far which is about the same as taking 25,000 cars off the road for a full year.

This is very cool (pardon the pun). When I got home I did a bit more searching and discovered that since Virgin Blue, others have followed. Jetstar for example have also been very successful in getting their customers to offset their flights through the online booking process. At a recent media conference Bruce Buchanan, general manager of Jetstar’s commercial operations revealed that around 12% of their passengers voluntarily offset their flights but this figure jumps to a whopping 28% on flights in or out of Byron Bay or the nearby town of Ballina. That’s more than double their national average.

What I found particularly exciting about these numbers is the idea that a corporation or influential organization does not have to necessarily spend a lot of money themselves to do a lot of good for the planet. They merely have to leverage their influence. Further, it proved to me that even without any public recognition of their actions, people are willing to actually pay to give back to the planet. It's not just airlines that can do this though. My favorite band, the Dave Matthews Band, recently launched the Bama Project which (among many other things) enables fans to arrange to share cars to get to their concerts through their website. Simply by influencing their network and providing a mechanism the band has not only established its green credentials but they have deepened their connection to their fan base and caused the offset of nearly a million pounds (their not on the metric system :-) of Co2 so far.

If we look at computers which are now estimated to account for 5% of the world's carbon emissions or about the same as the airline industry, how many of your friends or customers would ‘want’ to offset their bit if they were given the opportunity and mechanism?

Shortly, we will be launching the Zero Carbon Computer Challenge which will enable you or your business to follow the lead of Virgin Blue, Jetstar or the Dave Matthews Band by setting up your own carbon offsetting program whereby you can compete with others from the around the world to see how much Co2 you can cause to be offset through people offsetting their computers through Little Green Genie. We will provide you with your own unique webpage within our website that you can promote this page to your network. Every person who offsets will count toward your tonne total which will appear along with and your country and worldwide ranking. Unlike flying where offsetting is anonymous, you can add your zero carbon status to your website as well as all emails you send for as long as you remain a carbon neutral computer user through the Genie. It’s going to be a lot of fun and a great chance to flex the power of the people. Stay tuned!
blog comments powered by Disqus