Qantas says it will slash its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050, becoming only the second airline group in the world to make the commitment.
Today’s Qantas announcement comes at a time of growing scrutiny of the airline industry’s carbon footprint and pressure on travellers to opt for more environmentally friendly modes of transport.
Qantas announced today it would achieve its 2050 target through fuel efficiency and the carbon offset schemes.
From 2020, it will cap its net emissions at about 12 million tonnes and offset all growth in emissions from domestic and international operations across Qantas, Jetstar, QantasLink and Qantas Freight.
From today the company will also match every dollar spent by Qantas and Jetstar passengers who tick a box to fly carbon neutral when they book flights.
Qantas said its commitments were “the most ambitious carbon emissions targets of any airline group globally”.
“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,” Qantas Group chief executive officer Alan Joyce said today.
“These short-term actions will go towards a longer-term goal of being completely net carbon neutral by 2050. It’s ambitious but achievable.”
Qantas will also invest $50 million over 10 years to help develop sustainable aviation fuel, which it said could reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent but currently costs about twice the price of traditional jet fuel.
Commercial flying accounts for about 2 per cent of global carbon emissions and 12 per cent of transport emissions, according to the Air Transport Action Group.
“Concerns about emissions and climate change are real, but we can’t lose sight of the contribution that air travel makes to society and the economy,” Mr Joyce said.
“The industry has already come a long way in cutting its footprint and the solution from here isn’t to simply ‘fly less’ but to make it more sustainable.
“We’re doing this because it’s the responsible thing to do, but hopefully, it will also encourage more people to choose Qantas and Jetstar because of the action we’re taking.”
Qantas is the second airline group to pledge to hit zero net emissions by 2050 after the International Airlines Group, which owns British Airways, made the pledge last month.
‘FLIGHT SHAMING’ INFLUENCING AUSSIE TRAVELLERS
Qantas’ announcement comes as research suggests Australian travellers are considering ditching flying in favour of slower and more environmentally friendly forms of transport.
A survey of Australian travellers by Booking.com found 45 per cent planned to consider slower modes of transport, such as trains, next year to reduce their environmental impact.
The findings were part of Booking.com’s 2020 travel trends report, which identified social and environmental factors Australians said were important when travelling.
“Looking at our latest data, we can see that Aussies are making more and more travel choices based on the social and environmental impact that it can have,” Booking.com area manager for Australia, Luke Wilson, said.
“For example, taking cross-country trains like The Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin or ‘slow’ forms of transport such as ferries to avoid flying where possible.”
Travellers may be influenced by a burgeoning global movement known as “flight shaming” that pressures people to avoid air travel due to the industry’s environmental impact.
The movement appears to have emerged from Sweden, the home country of 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has refused to fly on planes since 2015.
Ms Thunberg recently spent two weeks travelling New York in a zero-emission boat to take part in climate change protests and speak at the United Nations Climate Action Summit rather than fly.
A recent survey of 6000 Americans and Europeans by Swiss bank UBS found one in five were flying less due to concerns about climate change.
Booking.com’s survey highlighted other factors Australians considered to be important when travelling, including supporting local businesses (75 per cent), reducing the use of single-use plastics (71 per cent), seeking sustainable accommodation (49 per cent) and visiting destinations previously affected by natural or other kinds of disasters (37 per cent).