Super Bowl LIII Buys Offsets for Travel Emissions

Carbon emissions from air travel to Super Bowl LIII on February 3 will be offset to the tune of 18,000 metric tons, or the equivalent of more than 1,600 air miles for each of the 71,000 seats at Mercedes Benz Stadium. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is partnering with Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and The Good Traveler on the initiative. It is the first time carbon emissions from the fans’ air travel to the big game will be offset.

Fan flights to the Super Bowl can account for over 80% of the direct emissions from the game, according to RMI. Carbon offsets are “verified to neutralize the impact of the use of fossil fuels, such as air travel or road travel, by keeping greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere at a project site,” the organization says, adding that offsets are the only option today for air travelers to mitigate the CO2 impact of their flights.

RMI manages The Good Traveler program, which is the only airport-founded and aviation-focused carbon offset program that gives airports, organizations, cities, and individuals the ability to mitigate the climate impact of travel. In 2018, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport joined the program’s airport advisory board; other participating organizations include Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Port of Seattle, The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, San Diego International Airport (the program’s founder) and San Francisco International Airport.

The aviation industry’s carbon emissions in the US grew by 3% last year and global aviation emissions have been growing at about 5% annually over the last four years, RMI says. Without intervention, aviation could comprise over 20% of the global carbon budget by mid-century.

For the foreseeable future, the aviation industry must rely on support from passengers, cities, and business to become sustainable through carbon offsets, RMI says. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – the world’s busiest airport – says it has offset over 60,000 tons of emissions since 2017 in its ongoing goal to reduce its environmental impact.

Aviation is considered a “harder to abate” sector and, along with other hard-to-abate sectors including steel, cement, plastics, trucking and shipping, could account for 60%of energy emissions by mid-century, according to a recent report from the Energy Transitions Commission.

In other Super Bowl-related news this week, Enel Green Power customer Anheuser-Busch announced that it would supply Atlanta’s Super Bowl Host Committee with renewable energy attributes to power the equivalent of the city’s energy consumption for six days — including Super Bowl LIII.