EasyJet has claimed it is set to become the world’s first major airline to operate a 100% net-zero carbon flight operation.
In a trading update issued on Tuesday (19 November), easyJet said it would immediately start offsetting emissions from fuel used on flights across its entire network.
The airline has partnered with Climate Focus to select its carbon offsetting programmes, and vowed only to support efforts that meet Gold Standard or Verified Carbon Standard accreditation.
EasyJet has also stressed it considers carbon offsetting, the subject of much debate in recent months, an interim measure as it continues to invest in its longer-term efforts to “reinvent aviation” such as electric or hybrid flying and sustainable fuels.
Offsetting its emissions during full-year 2019/20 (12 months to 30 September 2020) is expected to cost the carrier around £25 million.
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said it was a proud moment for the carrier. “We’re doing this by offsetting the carbon emissions from the fuel used for all of our flights,” he said. “We recognise offsetting is only an interim measure, but we want to take action on our carbon emissions now.
“EasyJet has a long tradition of efficient flying – the aircraft we fly and the way we fly them means that easyJet is already more efficient than many airlines.
“However, our priority is to continue to work on reducing our carbon footprint in the short term, coupled with long-term work to support the development of new technology, including electric planes, to reinvent aviation for the long-term.”
EasyJet says it will invest in projects to reduce carbon and carbon equivalent emissions tonne-for-tonne either by physically removing it from the air, such as by planting new trees, or by avoiding the release of additional CO2 in the first place.
The airline said it had undertaken a “rigorous” process to select its carbon offset programmes and its partner to appoint the projects, Climate Focus. All offsetting programmes, said easyJet, will meet Gold Standard or Verified Carbon Standard accreditation.
“These accreditors ensure the carbon reductions claimed by individual programmes would not have happened without that project, or that by reducing carbon emissions in one place they do not inadvertently increase them elsewhere,” said the carrier.
“This action on easyJet’s carbon emissions is an interim measure, and will be in place until new carbon-reducing technologies become available and commercially viable.
“The airline will continue to support innovative technology, including the development of hybrid and electric planes, working with others across the industry to reinvent aviation over the long-term so European aviation can become net-zero carbon.
“The aim will be for easyJet to reduce the amount of carbon offsetting it does as new technologies emerge.”
EasyJet has in recent years established partnerships with Airbus and Wright Electric to jointly research hybrid and electric short-haul commercial aircraft. It it also working with Rolls-Royce and Safran on new engine technologies.
EasyJet’s more immediate carbon reduction efforts include transitioning to more modern, fuel-efficient aircraft; operating aircraft to avoid fuel wastage; and maximising passenger load.
It says since 2000 it has reduced carbon emissions per passenger kilometre by more than a third, while emissions per passenger kilometre during full-year 2018/19 were 77.07 grams, down from 78.46 grams the previous year.