Fri 2 Sept 2011 – The Qantas airline group has passed a significant milestone with its voluntary carbon offset programme. Passengers on Qantas and its low-cost subsidiary Jetstar have now offset over one million tonnes of carbon emissions since September 2007. Funds generated are currently helping to support projects in developing countries recommended by the group’s carbon offset partner, Climate Friendly, and certified with the global Verified Carbon Standard and the Australian National Carbon Offset Standard. Qantas says it is monitoring developments of the government’s new Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI), which aims to help facilitate the sale of carbon credits on domestic and international markets, opening up new income streams for farmers and landholders across regional Australia from farmland and forestry projects.
Contributions from passengers, as well as payments from the Qantas group to offset emissions from its staff travel and ground vehicles, are being used for a wind-farm development in China, ‘run of river’ hydro-power projects in Vietnam and Indonesia, as well as a fuel switching project in Brazil that will help protect the Amazon rainforest.
“The Qantas Group has a comprehensive environment strategy focused on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and we consider it vital that we allow customers to help us in this effort on a voluntary basis,” said Olivia Wirth, Qantas’ Group Executive, Government and Corporate Affairs. “This year, Qantas and Jetstar became the first airlines to be certified by the government’s new National Carbon Offset Standard. This certification means that our customers can be assured that their contributions are genuinely offsetting the airlines’ emissions – and that they are going to sustainable projects that are making a real difference to communities.”
Wirth said the cost of offsetting was low: A$1 (S1.07) per passenger for a Sydney-Melbourne flight, A$6.12 for a Sydney-Singapore flight and A$12.82 for a Sydney-Los Angeles flight.
The Qantas milestone coincides with an announcement by British Airways that it is about to replace its voluntary carbon offset programme with a carbon fund that will support UK carbon-cutting projects (see story).
The Carbon Farming Initiative has just been endorsed by the Australian parliament and is part of a package of controversial climate measures the government is intent on introducing, including a proposal for a carbon tax of A$23 per tonne to be introduced from July 2012 and an emissions trading scheme (ETS) from mid-2015.
Qantas has said the carbon tax would have a cost impact of A$110-115 million on the group in the first year of operation through an increase in aviation fuel excise on domestic flights. The introduction of an ETS would lead to aviation fuel excise increases being determined by a six-month average of the carbon market price.
The group says it will be unable to absorb the costs of the carbon price and there will be a full, transparent pass-through to customers, with an estimate of an extra A$3.50 on a single domestic flight sector, depending on sector length.
Qantas reports that in addition to ongoing sustainable aviation fuel feasibility studies being carried out with Solena and Solazyme, further announcements on its sustainable fuel strategy will be made in the coming months.
Qantas – Fly Carbon Neutral
Australian Government – Climate Change
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