KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: Air travellers will now have an opportunity to help save the environment when they fly with Malaysia Airlines.
The airline and its subsidiaries have introduced a mechanism aimed at offsetting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into the atmosphere.
From yesterday, the "Towards a Greener Future" programme allows customers of Malaysia Airlines, Firefly and MASwings to make voluntary payments to reduce the carbon footprint of their travel.
The proceeds, which were worked out by an online carbon calculator, would be used to fund selected United Nations-sanctioned programmes protecting rainforests in Malaysia, said the airlines' corporate safety security, health and environment general manager, Captain Ooi Teong Siew.
Rainforests are a natural carbon sink that reduce greenhouse gases and curb the onset of climate change.
The proceeds are channelled to a trust fund that is managed by the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) on behalf of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.
Trustees of the fund include the ministry, FRIM and Malaysia Airlines.
Projects that would be funded include the conservation of the tropical peat swamp forest in Pekan, Pahang, while similar efforts in Sabah and Sarawak were being considered, said Ooi.
Contributions to the fund are not expected to burn a hole in the pocket.
For one-way flights to European destinations, the amount averages to about RM35. Those flying to Asian locations will pay about RM15 on the average while it is less than RM10 for domestic flights.
For example, a round trip from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching would emit 0.18 tonnes of CO2 and cost each passenger RM5.89 in "green tax" .
Passengers would also have the option of contributing a token amount of RM5, said Ooi.
Corporate clients will get a "carbon" statement at the end of the month.
"They can then send us a cheque for that amount," said Ooi.
Malaysia Airlines chief executive officer and managing director Datuk Seri Idris Jala said the airlines and its subsidiaries would apply the mechanism for all their travelling staff.
Multinational companies such as Shell, Maxis and Malaysia Airports Bhd have signed up for the programme.
Idris said figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) showed that the aviation industry contributed two per cent of the total global CO2 emissions. He also said Malaysia Airlines was the first airline in Southeast Asia to have such a mechanism.
According to the IATA website, every litre of fuel used emits more than 3kg of CO2.