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Jet-Setters' Penance
Carbon Offsets

Santa Monica Airport and carbon offsets
Aerial view of the Santa Monica Airport

The city of Santa Monica, CA, has stepped up its green image by offering travelers who fly in and out of the city’s airport an opportunity to purchase “carbon offsets.” The program basically encourages visitors to compensate for the carbon emissions created by their specific flight plans. The purchased offsets filter to nonprofit organizations worldwide involved in alternative energy projects and reforestation.

Nestled in some of Los Angeles county’s priciest real estate, Santa Monica Airport routinely welcomes $20-million Citation X and $35-million Gulfstream IV jets, which certainly produce their fair share of carbon footprints. Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Julia Roberts, Steven Spielberg and a bevy of other VIPs and Hollywood-types are known to fly in and out of the airport due to its proximity to the nation’s second largest city.

To calculate a specific flight’s offsets, the Santa Monica Airport has created a webpage ( that can quantify the emissions expended based on flight plan and number of passengers aboard—and even allows the option to purchase the offsets online. Although there are a number of emission reduction programs in effect around the world, this program is designed for the greenhouse gases we cannot avoid emitting—including aviation and ground transportation.

This is not the first time an offset program has been offered to visitors to a specific airport. Denver (DIA) implemented a similar program for a short time early in 2008, but put it on hold due to lack of interest.  This latest offset program is the first of its kind at a smaller general aviation airport and might actually be embraced by the wealthy pilots and passengers that frequent this small airport in the heart of Southern California.  Due to the type of clientele Santa Monica Airport attracts, it seems to be an appropriate location to see if this type of program can be successful.

For more information about carbon offsets, visit


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