With much of the world adapting many of their practices in an effort to become more sustainable, we're taking a look into how some of the major airlines around the world combat climate change and their common solution: carbon offsetting.
What Is Carbon Offsetting?
In 2019, flights were found to account for 2.5% of the world's carbon emissions and since then, the industry has continued to expand rapidly to meet the growing demand for air travel. Carbon offsetting flights is often mentioned as a partial solution to the problem of climate change, but what is offsetting and how does it work?
When they fly, aircraft engines produce a mix of greenhouse gases, particles and water vapor which are all released into the atmosphere, impacting the climate. However, the focus of offsetting is on carbon dioxide (CO2) as it's one of the most dangerous and prevalent greenhouse gasses to impact our planet. By Carbon offsetting flights we don't get rid of the CO2 which is produced when you fly - that still goes into the atmosphere, but what it does do is reduce the level of Carbon elsewhere, which helps to slow down the overall global increase in carbon dioxide levels. This usually happens through measuring how many tonnes of CO2 is produced by each flight and finding a way to reduce it by the same amount.
What Are Some of The World's Major Airlines Doing to Address the Issues?
According to their website, Emirates don't believe in passing on the responsibility of minimizing emissions to the customers, but rather they do it themselves. Therefore, they believe in the principle that the emitter should pay the price. With one of the quickest, most modern low emission fleets in the world, Emirates has spent billions of dollars in low emission aircrafts in order to reduce their carbon footprint and the negative impact that flying a plane has on the environment. Additionally, the program is backed up by other on ground projects such as recycling and waste minimization processes, water efficiency projects and investment in conservation-based tourism developments, such as Wolgan Valley Resort in Australia and UAE's Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.
2) British Airways
British Airways recognizes that through the activities it carries out as a major airline, they are contributing to negatively impacting the environment through the emissions of CO2 from their planes. Due to this, they have set out a range of initiatives that are designed to ensure that they neutralise that effect, aiming to reach the target of carbon neutrality by 2050. British Airways gives its customers a chance to willingly pay for their carbon emission costs with the money used to fund environmentally friendly initiatives such as waste minimisation through increased recycling and reusing, and reduced disposal eventually improving the efficiency of resources. British Airways also has an extensive environmental education program, which aims to teach children and young people about our world at their community learning centres.
3) United Airlines
United Airlines understands the grave impact that the emission of carbon has on the environment and are committed to making sure they neutralise the effect caused by their flights. They do this by offering customers the opportunity to pay to neutralise the carbon offset - each flight has a carbon calculator that calculates the carbon footprint per journey and also one to also calculate the cost of offsetting it. United Airlines has also worked with suppliers to implement changes on their aircraft, such as reducing fuel efficiency through technological improvements. It also uses advanced environmentally friendly and cost-efficient fuel. The money raised for offsetting has been used for forest conservation in California, development of renewable energy in Texas, and in community-based conservation in Peru.
4) Air Canada
Air Canada is committed to a net-zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050 by continuing their pledge to leave less and do more. They are among the airlines that choose to ensure their flights play a major role in carbon offsetting, offering their passengers the opportunity to take part in carbon offsetting through paying of costs calculated by a carbon calculator during each journey. This money is then used for environmental protection and conservation through their partner, Less Emissions.
Being one of Australia's largest international and domestic airlines, Qantas is at the forefront in reducing their carbon emission through various programs and projects. Qantas has been certified carbon neutral under the NCOS Carbon Neutral Program since the year 2007 and has been ranked the largest carbon off-setter in world with over 2.5 million tons of carbon offset.
It provides customers with the opportunity to offset the carbon footprint left by the airline and all the funds are passed on to relevant projects. The carbon offset projects have invested in both social and environmental projects including empowering rainforest communities in Papua New Guinea, supporting the North Kimberly Fire Abatement Project in order to reinvigorate traditions that are indigenous and protecting wilderness areas like the Tasmanian forest.
6) Delta Airlines
Arguably experts in the field, Delta Airlines has been investing in carbon offset in order to promote carbon neutrality in both domestic and international flights since 2012. Investing in in fuel efficiency, electric powered tugs, and the exploration of carbon markets, Delta is determined to accomplish its goal of complete carbon neutrality, with its customers having the choice to offset their flights through donations made to Delta's carbon neutrality initiative and towards environmental projects. Additionally, Delta produce a transparent Corporate Report which offers a review of how their initiatives are working.
We recognise that carbon offsetting isn't going to solve every environmental issue that arises from flying across the globe, however it's encouraging to see some of the world's major airlines take responsibility and try to work towards carbon neutrality.
If carbon offsetting is something that interests you, many independent companies offer to offset your carbon for travel, for your household and for your purchases. We're proud to partner with Thrust Carbon which will give you the option to offset your whole holiday, meaning you can enjoy an idyllic escape without a trace of eco-anxiety.