Easyjet to stop offsetting CO2 emissions from December

The airline industry is being urged to do reconsider if it uses carbon offsetting programs. When they are used, the offsets used – as well as probably being ineffective – are far too cheap to make any real difference. The problem is that offsets are not a substitute for genuine emissions reductions. The way many schemes work is not transparent, and they have been called a “wild west”.  There is no single standard on carbon emissions and how they, or the offsets, are calculated. The same goes for SAF – ” sustainable aviation fuels”.  Now easyJet has said it will stop offsetting carbon emissions by its planes. It has unveiled a “roadmap to net zero” emissions by 2050 including introducing (allegedly) hydrogen-powered jet engines. It also hopes for more use of SAF (future supplies uncertain) more fuel-efficient planes (very slow to develop) and carbon capture (which does not yet exist, to any meaningful extent) to reach the target.  EasyJet of course intends to keep growing, keep increasing the number of flights, and keep emitting more carbon. It had a three-year contract in late 2019 to offset all its CO2 emissions –costing it about £25m a year, but it was regarded as greenwashing the environmental damage it causes.

Easyjet to stop offsetting CO2 emissions from December

Airline unveils ‘roadmap to net zero’ strategy focusing on sustainable fuel and more efficient planes

Easyjet said it would no longer pay for offsets for bookings made after December.

By Gwyn Topham and Patrick Greenfield (The Guardian)

Mon 26 Sep 2022

EasyJet is to stop offsetting carbon emissions by its planes as it unveiled a “roadmap to net zero” emissions by 2050 including introducing hydrogen-powered jet engines.

Other elements of easyJet’s new strategy include using sustainable aviation fuel, more fuel-efficient planes and carbon capture to reach the target.

EasyJet insisted it was the most ambitious plan yet from an airline to tackle emissions, while it continued to partner with firms on exploring new technologies.

The airline signed a three-year contract in late 2019 to offset all its CO2 emissions – a world first, and a move that was then said to be costing the airline about £25m a year, but it was regarded by some as greenwashing the environmental damage caused by its passenger jets.

Last year, a joint investigation by the Guardian revealed that major airlines including easyJet were using unreliable “phantom” carbon credits to claim their flights were carbon neutral. Under the logic of offsetting, the CO2 emissions from flying are theoretically cancelled out by paying to stop emissions elsewhere, such as those from deforestation.

EasyJet said it would no longer pay for offsets for bookings made after December. It has not disclosed the sums it eventually paid for the controversial offsets but said it “will not invest less” in making flying less polluting and more sustainable.

In a launch event on Monday at easyJet’s Luton airport headquarters, its partner Rolls-Royce displayed a jet engine to be powered by hydrogen, and said it was “progressing fast towards hydrogen combustion ground tests”.

EasyJet plans to curb CO2 emissions by 35% per kilometre by 2035 as part of its new roadmap, and said the steps it was taking had been validated by the Science-Based Targets initiative.

The most significant imminent reduction, of about 15% of current emissions, would come through fleet replacement of conventional kerosene-fuelled planes.

EasyJet has ordered 168 more A320neos from Airbus, and the manufacturer will also retrofit the existing fleet with technology to optimise flight descent and fuel burn.

The easyJet chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said that the plan had a “level of detail and granularity” that marked it out from similar aviation announcements – although the roadmap remained partially reliant on schemes such as airspace modernisation that require government action that had not been forthcoming in a decade.

Lundgren added: “Since 2000, over a 20-year period, we have already reduced our carbon emissions per passenger, per kilometre, by one-third, so this marks a significant acceleration in our decarbonisation.

“Today we’re the first airline to outline an ambitious roadmap in which zero carbon emission technology plays a key role to take us to net zero emissions by 2050 and ultimately to zero carbon emission flying across our entire fleet.”

The airline believes it can cut its own emissions by 78% by 2050, with carbon capture technology allowing it to reach net zero.

Despite moving away from offsetting, Lundgren insisted that it had “been the right thing to do” but was “only ever an interim measure”. He added: “We’ve said all along that we want to transition to technologies that reduce our carbon intensity from our direct operation, that’s our key goal.”

The Guardian investigation with Unearthed, Greenpeace’s investigative arm, found that the carbon credits were based on complicated and unreliable hypothetical calculations of avoided deforestation, which experts warned were not real emission reductions. The findings were fiercely criticised by Verra, the carbon offsetting standard that approved the credits.

An easyJet spokesperson said the decision to move away from offsetting “was not related to the performance of our offsetting partners or quality of their projects or credits over which we have no concerns”.

In another potential move towards zero-emission flight, the Bristol-based Vertical Aerospace announced on Monday that it had achieved the first hovering test flight of its VX4 prototype electric plane over the weekend.

This article was amended on 27 September 2022. EasyJet plans to curb CO2 emissions by 35% per kilometre by 2035, not by 35% overall as an earlier version implied.




BY LINDA FOX (Phocus Wire)

SEPTEMBER 29, 2022

The aviation industry is being urged to do its due diligence when it comes to carbon offsetting programs.

Programs are increasingly getting called out for how cheap they are and questioned on their efficacy – or, in some cases, existence. There’s also a debate around the pretense that offsets are a substitute for emission reductions.

Andreas Slettvoll, CEO of climate technology specialist Chooose, which provides carbon programs to the travel industry, said the company steers clear of 70% of offset programs.

He said his concerns are not only for the reputation of his company, but also the companies it works with.

At a recent Amadeus event, Slettvoll told airlines that offsets were not the solution.

“It’s one of many solutions; it’s not one size fits all; it’s many sizes that fit many different types of companies and they all have specific needs.”

Amadeus Ventures recently announced an investment in Chooose with the aim of enabling travelers and travel agents to explore and purchase various options to reduce the impact of travel on the environment.

Slettvoll also noted a lack of transparency around many offset programs.

“Historically offsets have been priced ridiculously low, one tonne of carbon for 50 cents or $1, which doesn’t represent the cost of one tonne emitted. Historically these markets, carbon markets and I’m specifically talking about offsets, have been very immature. There’s a feeling of the wild west and a complete lack of transparency. It’s impossible for us as individuals or even as a corporate buyer to understand the real underlying cost and that’s a big problem.

“What we actively discourage is to chase any type of offsets based on price alone. We’ve seen many cases of companies claiming they are net neutral or carbon neutral based on 15-year-old cheap offsets from a project that might not even be operative any more.”

Slettvoll was speaking as part of a sustainability panel at the Amadeus Altitude 22 airline executive event.

Carbon challenges

Questioned on the sustainability challenges for airlines, carriers on the panel, which included Air Canada, Air Caraibes and Braathens Regional Airlines, highlighted the lack of a single standard when it comes to carbon emissions and how they’re calculated.

Laila Nouasri, director, supplier relationship management and strategic procurement, IT, at Air Canada, said there are also challenges with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

“The best thing we can do with the biggest impact on greenhouse gas is SAF, but that comes with a whole host of its own challenges specifically the lack of availability worldwide. In Canada there is no supply, so if we want SAF we have to truck it up all the way from California, which kind of defeats the purpose.”

Alongside other recent initiatives to address its carbon footprint, including investment in electric aircraft manufacturer Heart Aerospace, Air Canada recently selected Chooose as its carbon offset partner.

The partnership enables Air Canada passengers to purchase verified carbon offsets on the carrier’s websites.

The announcement is one of a spate of recent moves from carriers regarding sustainability initiatives: JetBlue has announced its intention to purchase 25 million gallons of SAF over five years.

Meanwhile, easyJet has signaled a move away from offsetting and has set a target of a 35% reduction in emissions by 2035.

Holistic approach

But, the wider discussion around sustainable travel is not only about individual moves from carriers; it’s also about the entire ecosystem.

During the Altitude event, Amadeus asked airlines what their expectations are of the distribution giant when it comes to sustainability.

Noella Abitbol, CIO of Air Caraibe, said she wants to see a jointly developed green loyalty scheme. Monika Wiederhold, executive vice president global ecosystem initiatives and senior group executive, Germany, at Amadeus, revealed that the company is already “incubating a green loyalty program.”

Abitbol said she also wants to see more green efforts in IT and asked Amadeus to share how sustainable it is, for example, in its partnership with Microsoft.

Meanwhile, Michael Quist, CIO of Braathens, said he wants to help with selling its green fare families, as well as more coordinated work on a standardized way of calculating emissions.

Air Canada’s Nouasri agreed that stakeholders need to come together and align on goals and solutions. She also said the airline is working on its Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and asked Amadeus to find ways to reduce its Scope 2 emissions.

“Amadeus’ Scope 2 ends up being our Scope 3, and by reducing Scope 2 emissions you have a direct impact on all of the airlines that work with you.”

The Scopes are the basis for reporting greenhouse gas emissions. Scope 1 covers a company’s direct emissions, Scope 2 its indirect emissions and Scope 3 emissions across a company’s value chain.

Despite the challenges, initiatives around sustainable travel are increasing and attitudes are changing.

Slettvoll says there’s an increasing demand for solutions and less price sensitivity around them now than there was four years ago.

“There’s a willingness to pay from end consumers because corporate buyers and consumers understand this much more now than just two or three years ago, so the willingness to pay for high-quality offsets and high-quality removal programs is different now.”

* Reporter’s attendance at the event was supported by Amadeus.