British Airways' new carbon fund sets sail with first home-grown community solar panel installation project
British Airways’ Head of Environment Jonathon Counsell, Ben Ainslie and Robert Rabinowitz of PURE at the solar panel unveiling
Wed 18 Apr 2012 – British Airways’ One Destination Carbon Fund, which was set up last year to replace the airline’s carbon offsetting programme, has launched its first project. Last week, sailing triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie unveiled a solar panel installation at a leisure centre on the English south coast that has received £46,000 ($74,000) from the Fund. The Osprey Leisure Centre, located near Weymouth, where the Olympic and Paralympic sailing competitions are taking place this summer, is owned by a charitable, not-for-profit organisation that took over a former naval sports centre in order to provide sports facilities for the local community. As the official airline partner of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, British Airways is supporting projects in the first year of the Fund that are sport related.
“As a community organisation we are very grateful for the contribution made by British Airways towards the installation of our solar panels,” said the centre’s General Manager, Nigel Williams. “Thousands of local people will benefit as our energy costs will reduce by more than £100,000 over the lifetime of the panels and we will be cutting our carbon footprint too.”
Ainslie, who is preparing for the Games at the nearby National Sailing Academy, commented: “We all have our role to play in sustainability and with projects like this one, British Airways is making a real difference to local communities.”
The next project to receive funding is a sports centre in Newcastle, north-east England, which is installing solar thermal heating for its swimming pool.
British Airways replaced its carbon offsetting programme, which funded energy projects in China, partly in response to the introduction of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and also as a result of customer feedback.
“Customers told us they wanted to be able to support low carbon projects in the UK,” said the airline’s Carbon Fund Manager, Leigh Hudson. “We are delighted to have been able to provide Osprey Leisure Centre with funding, and look forward to contributing to many low carbon projects both at home and abroad.”
The airline has developed the Carbon Reporting Framework programme in collaboration with Deloitte and BRE, which will enable verification of carbon savings and other associated benefits from the projects and ensure they are correctly managed. All customer donations to the Fund are gifted to PURE – The Clean Planet Trust.
Hudson added that the Fund was just one aspect of the airline’s environmental strategy. “British Airways is committed to reducing our net carbon emissions by 50% by 2050. We are investing in new aircraft and technology, and we are leading the industry in pressing for a global framework for dealing with aviation’s emissions,” she said.