A leading tour operator’s ­complaint that apathy in the trade is holding back carbon offsetting has sparked anger among independent agents.

But The Co-operative Travel Group has backed the view of Sunvil Holidays managing ­director and ABTA board member, Noel Josephides.

“The impetus has gone out of offsetting,” Josephides said last week. “Agents do not want to ask clients about it. Most have little inclination to explain it.”

That led Gloucestershire agent John Burgess – who did not wish his agency to be named – to complain: “Sunvil adds this surcharge automatically and expects us to delete it if not required. This causes more hassle.

“I consider Sunvil a good operator, but am disinclined to book with them because of this.”

Traveltalk partner David Sutcliffe in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, questioned if global warming is a threat. He said: “The clamour for tour operators, airlines and travel agencies to prove how green they are is becoming nauseating.

“I have yet to be convinced global warming is anything other than a cyclical phenomenon.”

However, The Co-operative Travel Group head of marketing Ruth Evans said: “Noel [Josephides] is absolutely right. The challenge for agents is to make sure they are up to speed.

“The industry must take responsibility for urging customers to offset their emissions.

“All our agency staff receive training on how to sell an offset.”

Research released last week confirmed that there is widespread confusion among consumers over carbon offsetting, which is limiting its uptake.

It found 75% of air passengers accept flying contributes to climate change, but only 10% would consider paying to offset the emissions.

Dr Paul Hooper of Manchester Metropolitan University said: “This suggests the uptake would increase if benefits were better publicised.”

The study was produced by academics across several universities in the aviation and sustainability group Omega, which will hold a workshop on the issue at Manchester Airport on Tuesday.