EasyJet to offset all flight emissions, pushes for electric aircraft vision

EasyJet has become the first airline to operate net-zero flights, after agreeing to offset all emissions from fuel starting today (19 November) and will continue to work on rolling out electric aircraft in the future.

EasyJet will also look to champion carbon capture technologies and sustainable aviation fuels in order to decarbonise its flights and operations. Image: EasyJet

EasyJet will also look to champion carbon capture technologies and sustainable aviation fuels in order to decarbonise its flights and operations. Image: EasyJet

EasyJet, which has reduced the carbon emissions for each kilometre flown by a passenger by 33% since 2000, has announced it will source carbon offsets as part of an “interim measure” towards decarbonising its flights.

Offsets will be delivered through verified projects accredited by the Gold Standard and Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), covering forestry schemes, renewables and community projects.

EasyJet’s chief executive Johan Lundgren 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.  We also need governments to support efforts to decarbonise aviation. In particular, they must reform aviation taxes to incentivise efficient behaviour, fund research and development in new technology and ensure that early movers such as EasyJet are not penalised.”

Many green groups have criticised the use of offsetting as a means for companies to avoid delivering any meaningful action on emissions reductions. The certification of carbon offsets is convoluted as many schemes offer differing prices. Up until recently, the certifications themselves were being questioned, although the introduction of the VCS and Gold Standard has added some authentication to the system. VCS-certified offsets are audited according to the Kyoto protocol, for example.

Electric vision

EasyJet is targeting a 10% reduction on carbon emissions per passenger kilometre by 2022 and used the offset announcement to shed new light on its electric aircraft vision.

The airline has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbus on a joint research project for hybrid and electric aircraft. It is also supporting Wright Electric, which is aiming to produce an all-electric plane which could be used for short-haul flights. Additional partnerships with Rolls Royce and Safran to reduce the carbon footprint of flying have also been introduced.

EasyJet will also look to champion carbon capture technologies and sustainable aviation fuels in order to decarbonise its flights and operations.

EasyJet is the latest airline to turn to offsets to deliver net-zero flights. Australian airline group Qantas will invest $50m in sustainable fuel over the next decade and offset growth in emissions from international and domestic flights in order to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of British Airways (BA), became the first airline group to commit to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, as BA also announced plans to offset all domestic passenger flight emissions next year.

Several NGOs offering carbon offsetting have reported a fourfold increase in investment over the past two years. A recent edie webinar explored whether offsets were at risk of greenwashing strategies. You can read the key findings here.

Matt Mace



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