A travel agent is ditching an offer allowing holidaymakers to pay extra if they feel guilty about the greenhouse gases created by their flights, saying it’s like selling “medieval pardons”.

responsibletravel.com said it was dropping carbon offsets from its website, bucking an industry trend of recent years.

Ever more airlines and travel groups offer customers the option of paying a bit more to plant trees in Africa, for instance, or to help build a wind farm in India to soak up greenhouse gases equal to those emitted by their vacations.

“We believe that the travel industry’s priority must be to reduce carbon emissions, rather than to offset,” said Justin Francis, managing director of the British-based firm.

“Carbon offsets distract tourists from the need to reduce their emissions. They create a ‘medieval pardon’ for us to carry on behaving in the same way (or worse),” he said.