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Giving back to society / nature

Yes, I fly a lot. It's part of my job to deliver inspiring speeches all over the world. Last year, I delivered speeches in 12 different countries. And yes, I know that flying is not a very environmental way to travel but in some cases, it's the most efficient one for the work that I do. To compensate a bit for all those CO2 emissions that went into the air because of my job, I donate every year an amount of money to a charity. This year, I've done a bit more research to calculate my ecological footprint. And I got some interesting insights:

1. If you look on google for 'compensating CO2 flights' the first 3 ads that you find are 'offers for cheap flights'??? Mmm, looks like the airlines just buy all ads with the word 'flight' in it.

2. There are quite big differences in the calculation models. I've tried out 3 calculators (Myclimate.org, flygrn.com and climatecare.org) and checked the 'compensation value' for a flight from Amsterdam - Singapore. Flygrn only 'charged' me 26 euro, Climatecare was 34 euro and Myclimate was 42 euro. I've decided to go for the most 'expensive' one.

3. I have looked back in my agenda to find all the flights that I've done and I flew 131.500 kilometres this year = 3,25 x earth circumference. Recommended compensation: 535 euro. And if I'm honest, I don't find this a lot of money for all the flights that I took. (And my footprint is, of course, bigger because I live in a house and I drive a car (I'm doing quite well with the car - I guess I use my car once every two weeks and take the train whenever possible). So I've decided to triple this number and donate 1.605 euro to charities.

Instead of giving back to one charity, I've decided to divide this money into 11 different charities that I like - a mixture of great social and environmental causes.

+ Speaker 4 Earth - international speakers fighting climate change - speaker4earth.org

+ Mobile School - amazing project from friend Arnoud Raskin by bringing non-formal education to the streets - mobileschool.org

+ Together We Can Change The World - improving the well-being of disadvantaged children and women in SE Asia - twcctw.org

+ The Ocean cleanup - a great project to restore our ocean ecosystem. - theoceancleanup.com

+ Stop Colon Cancer - a bit smelly but beautiful project from friend Luc Colemont to stop colon cancer - stopdarmkanker.be

+ My Climate - compensating CO2 - myclimate.org

+ GiveWell - they do research to charities that save or improve lives the most per dollar - givewell.org

+ Oceans for all - restoring balance in the marine environment whenever it's affected by tourism or economic development - oceansforallfoundation.org

+ Climate Emergency Fund - supporting individual activists and organisations working to wake up the public - climateemergencyfund.org

+ KIKA - Children Cancer Foundation - kika.nl

+ Coalition for Rainforest Nations - supporting the rain forest - rainforestcoalition.org

I know that this is still a small gesture to compensate for my carbon footprint but at least it's a small step. And I take some specific actions by being a Street-volunteer in my city of Antwerp and try to clean up the streets at least once a week (when I'm in Belgium). And in July, I will be one of the volunteers of the great Together We Can Change The World program for 2 weeks. Every small step counts.

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