The company that owns airlines including British Airways and Aer Lingus set a course this week to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. International Airlines Group (IAG) says they are the first airline group worldwide to make such a commitment.
Several environmental initiatives will help the group reach its new emissions goal, according to IAG. They include investing in verified carbon reduction projects including solar energy projects, forestation programs, and tree planting in South America, Africa, and Asia.
Over the next 20 years, IAG plans to invest $400 million in sustainable aviation fuel. That includes British Airways’ partnership with Velocys to build a household-waste-to-jet-fuel plant in the UK that’s expected to begin operations in 2024. Fuel from the plant produces 70% fewer carbon dioxide emissions than fossil fuel, IAG says.
IAG is also replacing older aircraft in their fleet with ones that are as much as 25% more carbon-efficient. The airline group says it’s developing management incentives for employees to reduce emissions internally, and the company is exploring carbon capture technology in partnership with the American company Mosaic Materials through IAG’s startup accelerator Hangar 51.
“Aviation’s dependency on fossil fuels means that it’s essential that governments support its efforts to decarbonize by providing incentives to accelerate investment in new technologies,” IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said. “Global warming needs a global solution and all these initiatives will help limit the world’s temperature increase to 1.5 degrees.”
Airline Executives Address No-Fly Movement
Consumer pressure on the airline industry to cut emissions has been rising recently. During a press conference in Brussel over the summer, Walsh and Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary pushed back against the no-fly movement, “flight shame,” and increasing government taxes to discourage air travel.
“We are sensitive to the criticism that we are getting a free ride on the environment because frankly, it is not true,” O’Leary said in July, according to Reuters. “We are paying on behalf of our customers a penal level of aviation taxes and these taxes are continuing to rise.”
The Reuters journalists wrote that “Walsh, who like O’Leary is from Ireland, said people living on islands and in countries at the periphery of Europe often had no real alternative to flying and that taxes could undermine the competitiveness of these regions.”
Source: Environment + Energy Leader