EasyJet has announced it is to become the first major airline to operate net-zero flights by offsetting carbon emissions from its entire aircraft.
The company will invest in projects to reduce carbon and its equivalents from the atmosphere, compensating for every tonne of CO2 emitted from jet fuel by ensuring the atmosphere has one tonne less. This can be achieved by reducing CO2 by planting more trees to help remove it from the air, or by avoiding the release of more CO2.
Carbon emissions for each passenger using the British budget airline are already reduced where possible, according to the company, which has reduced emissions per passenger kilometre by more than a third since 2000 (this year was 77.07 grams, down from 78.46 grams in 2018).
EasyJet will offset the carbon emissions from the fuel used for all its flights through schemes accredited by two of the highest verification standards, Gold Standard and Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). They will include renewable, forestry and community-based projects.
The firm has teamed up with Climate Focus, a pioneering international advisory company which has helped easyJet develop its offset project portfolio and assisted with selecting projects and partners.
Johan Lundgren, easyJet’s CEO, said: “Climate change is an issue for all of us. At easyJet we are tackling this challenge head on by choosing to offset the carbon emissions from the fuel used for all of our flights starting today. In doing so we are committing to operating net-zero carbon flights across our network – a world first by any major airline.
“We acknowledge that offsetting is only an interim measure until other technologies become available to radically reduce the carbon emissions of flying, but we want to take action on carbon now.”
Jonathon Porritt, co-founder of Forum for the Future, said: “This is an exciting development from easyJet, which is obviously taking the issue of climate change very seriously. But as is now widely understood, carbon offsetting can only be a bridge to future technological developments, and it will be important to seek out each and every way of reducing carbon emissions.
“Beyond that, the whole industry needs to come together more effectively to decarbonise this critical sector just as quickly as possible.”
Mr Lundgren said easyJet’s priority is to continue to work on reducing its carbon footprint and support the development of new technology, including electric planes to radically reduce the carbon footprint of aviation. The company has already backed plans for American startup Wright Electric to develop an electric airliner.
He added: “I am therefore delighted that we have also announced a new electric plane partnership with Airbus. We will be working together to identify the detailed technical challenges and requirements for electric and electric hybrid planes when deployed for short haul flying around Europe. We hope this will be an important step towards making electric planes a reality.
“Aviation will have to reinvent itself as quickly as it can. This is the reason why we have been supporting Wright Electric since 2017 and are working with Airbus, and Safran on new technologies.”
EasyJet has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbus, related to a joint research project on hybrid and electric aircraft. The MoU is an important step towards furthering the industry’s understanding of the operational and infrastructure opportunities and challenges of plug-in hybrid and full electric aircraft.