British Airways has launched a new carbon offset scheme after its previous programme to offset emissions was described as “risible” by MPs.

The scheme remains voluntary rather than one requiring passengers to opt out by removing the cost of offsetting from a fare, but BA said offsetting a flight online would take a single click.

Payments will go to clean energy projects in China and Brazil. In addition, BA announced it will sponsor a deforestation programme in Brazil and research at Cambridge University into aviation emissions other than CO2.

Environment secretary Hilary Benn welcomed the scheme, saying: “I hope this will encourage BA customers to offset their flights.”

BA was among the first airlines to establish a carbon offset scheme in September 2005. But take up was so small that in March 2007 the airline told the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee that it had offset emissions equivalent to just four return flights from Heathrow to New York.

Committee chairman Tim Yeo dismissed this as “scandalous” and the committee’s report in July noted BA’s intention “to improve the prominence and accessibility of offsetting on its website”.