The Australian flagship carrier is also committing to cap net emissions at 2020 levels
by Lark Gould
The Qantas Group will reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 in a major expansion of the airline’s commitment to a more sustainable aviation industry.
Starting from today, the national carrier has announced it will:
• Immediately double the number of flights being offset
• Cap net emissions from 2020 onwards
• Invest $50 million over 10 years to help develop a sustainable aviation fuel industry
In total, these commitments are the most ambitious carbon emissions targets of any airline group globally. Qantas, Jetstar, QantasLink and Qantas Freight will offset all growth in emissions from domestic and international operations from 2020.
This includes offsetting all net emissions from Project Sunrise, the carrier’s plan to operate non-stop flights from the east coast of Australia to London and New York, should the project proceed. This will also extend to domestic flying, meaning that growth on key routes like Melbourne-Sydney will be carbon neutral.
The aviation industry, which contributes around two percent of global CO2 emissions, has committed to halving emissions by 2050 compared to 2005 levels. It was the first industry to make such commitments. Qantas had signed up to those commitments but will now exceed them.
Qantas will work with industry, research institutions and governments to develop the long-term solutions to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation industry over the next three decades.
Largest Offset Program in Industry
Qantas notes it currently operates the largest carbon offset program in the aviation industry, with around 10 percent of customers booking flights on Qantas.com choosing to offset their flights.
From today, Qantas and Jetstar will double the number of flights offset by matching every dollar spent by customers who tick the box to fly carbon neutral. By matching our customers’ commitment, we expect even more people to offset their emissions.
This additional investment will see Qantas Future Planet, which is already the largest private sector buyer of Australian carbon credits, support more conservation and environmental projects in Australia and around the world. Existing projects include protecting the Great Barrier Reef, working with Indigenous communities to reduce wildfires in Western Australia and securing sizable swaths of native Tasmanian forest.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel
The aviation company will invest $50 million over the next ten years to help develop a sustainable aviation fuel industry. Proper fuel combinations can reduce carbon emissions by eighty percent compared to traditional jet fuel, but are currently almost double the price.
The carrier will also continue to reduce its emissions through continued investment in more fuel efficient aircraft, more efficient operations such as single-engine taxiing, and smarter flight planning to reduce fuel burn.
Qantas is on track to replace its Boeing 747 fleet by the end of 2020 with the more fuel-efficient B787 Dreamliners, which burn 20 percent less fuel than aircraft of a similar size. Jetstar’s A321neo (LR) aircraft, which begin arriving next year, use 15 percent less fuel than the aircraft they are replacing.
The Qantas Group continues to work with aircraft and engine manufacturers on next-generation technology that will deliver a further step-change in emissions reduction – however, innovations such as electric aircraft engines are still some time away.
“We recognize that airlines have a responsibility to cut emissions and combat climate change. We’ve already made some good progress, especially by investing in newer aircraft that have a much smaller carbon footprint,” said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce. “We want to do more, and faster. We’re effectively doubling our carbon offsetting program from today and we’re capping our net emissions across Qantas and Jetstar from 2020 so that all new flying will be carbon neutral. These short-term actions will go towards a longer-term goal of being completely net carbon neutral by 2050. It’s ambitious, but achievable.”