Mon 6 Nov 2017 – International Airlines Group (IAG) has achieved a coveted ‘A List’ status in this year’s CDP ratings of leading environmental performances by the world’s leading organisations. Formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, the global disclosure system enables companies to measure and manage their environmental impact and the data is used by investors and purchasers, as well as policy-makers. The Climate A List was established in 2011 and introduced for water and forests in 2015 and 2015 respectively, with IAG one of 112 companies worldwide making the 2017 climate change A List, the only representative from the aviation sector. It was also awarded ‘most improved’ UK organisation in 2017. Meanwhile, Chief Executive Willie Walsh said last week IAG would take an equity investment in its new sustainable aviation fuels venture with Velocys.
The A List achievement is down to a number of measures IAG says it has taken in a commitment to make it the world’s leading environmentally sustainable airline group.
“This is great news and a recognition of our efforts to lead the industry in tackling climate change,” said Walsh, responding to the CDP top listing. “IAG was the first airline group worldwide to set its own carbon emissions targets and we’re very proud of our role in securing the first global carbon offsetting scheme.
“We’re investing in modern and more efficient aircraft and have created innovative operational procedures to reduce CO2 output. Developing sustainable fuel is also crucial and we’re working to convert domestic waste into jet fuel, which is an amazing innovation to cut emissions while reducing landfill.”
The group, which currently comprises British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling, says it has integrated climate change targets into its business strategy and improved its reporting on how environmental risks are mitigated and the opportunities to enhance its airlines’ performance.
Speaking at last week’s UK Airport Operators Association annual conference, Walsh said IAG’s venture with waste-to-fuel technology company Velocys could see first supplies of renewable fuel by 2021. “The focus just now is on producing the fuel for British Airways but in time it could be for other members of the group,” he told delegates.
British Airways was involved in a previous project called GreenSky to build a biorefinery in east London with Solena but pulled the plug two years ago (see article), citing poor economics and a lack of government support. The UK government has now signalled its intention to incentivise renewable aviation fuels through its Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation scheme and is providing funding towards projects to produce renewable aviation fuel (see article). It is also backing an initiative to create a sustainable aviation fuels group called SAF SIG to build a UK industry supply chain (see article).
“The technology exists but the challenge has been to create a commercial model that works and now we have that with the government’s recent support,” explained Walsh.
“We are prepared to invest – we are very clear about that. We see this both in terms of equity and also taking the supply of fuel. It will be a multi-million pound investment although we’ve not put a limit on it at this stage but initially it will be in the tens of millions rather than hundreds.”
He said IAG was committed to using alternative fuels produced from waste. “There are a lot of environmental concerns over the use of crops and competition with food supply to make biofuels, which in our view is not sustainable. The good news is that there is pretty much no limit to the amount of waste in the UK at the moment that can be used. It doesn’t have to be new waste either – it could be waste from old landfill. There is a lot of potential.”
List of airlines, airports, aviation and aerospace companies in CDP Climate List 2017:
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