Ryanair to donate 1 million euros from its carbon offset programme to four climate and conservation projects
Mon 11 Mar 2019 – Following a decision by Europe’s biggest low-cost airline Ryanair to launch a voluntary carbon offsetting option for customers in 2018, the airline has announced its first international environmental partnerships. Over €1 million ($1.1m) raised from passengers and the airline will be donated to projects in Uganda, Portugal and Ireland. These include a partnership with First Climate to support and disseminate energy-efficient cookstoves in Uganda, and an Irish group dedicated to the conservation of whales, dolphins and porpoises. The other two projects involve tree replanting in an area of Portugal devastated by wildfires in 2018 and preserving and restoring native woodland in Ireland. Not previously noted for a commitment to environmentalism, Ryanair last year set emissions reduction targets and said it supported long-term industry climate goals.
“We are delighted to announce our first ever environmental partners, supporting four great projects across Europe and Africa,” said Ryanair’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kenny Jacobs. “At Ryanair, we are committed to minimising our own environmental impact. With this latest initiative we continue to lead the way, and we encourage our customers to support these exciting partnerships by making carbon offset donations when booking flights on our website.”
First Climate CEO Jochen Gassner said that without the voluntary commitment of the private sector, the aim of the Paris Agreement to keep global warming well below 2 degrees C was unattainable. “We therefore highly welcome Ryanair’s and their passengers’ commitment to climate change mitigation and are very grateful for the support of our climate protection project in Uganda.
“By distributing energy-efficient cookstoves, the project enables families to reduce their fuel, wood and charcoal consumption and helps fight the causes of deforestation. It is certified by the highly regarded Gold Standard, evidencing the exceptional benefits of this emissions reduction project and its contribution towards sustainable development on the ground.”
The cookstoves are produced and distributed locally to generate local employment, and they enable users to reduce their fuel consumption by 35-50%, says First Climate. Because of their increased combustion efficiency, using the cookstoves also produces notably less pollution, so posing less risk to health as well as climate. The project area has been gradually extended from metropolitan Kampala to other parts of the country and more than 450,000 households have already benefitted from the cookstoves.
Last August, wildfires devastated the Monchique area situated in the tourist destination of the Algarve in southern Portugal. Renature Monchique is helping restore important forest habitat.
“We welcome the support of Ryanair and its passengers as we restore vital habitats, not only the species that flourish here but also the woodlands, forests and river bank vegetation that make up this culturally important place,” said Marlene Marques, President of GEOTA, a Portuguese environmental protection group, on behalf of Renature Monchique.
“In so doing, Ryanair is also supporting the local council to meet their requirements under the UN Sustainable Development Goals by preventing further land degradation and supporting the climate change mitigation efforts of carbon sequestration by planting trees.”
Irish NGO The Native Woodland Trust aims to preserve the country’s remaining ancient woodlands and recreating woodlands using only native seed.
“We rely heavily on corporate sponsorship and public donations for the vast bulk of our income – over 95% in some years,” said the Trust’s Chairman, Jim Lawlor. “In return, we protect seven woodland reserves across Ireland, with more becoming available in the near future. These reserves provide amenities to local communities, as well as protecting rare and endangered wildlife.
“We are extremely grateful to Ryanair and its customers for enabling us to carry out this unique project, which will protect our threatened wildlife and offset carbon emissions into the bargain.”
The funding from Ryanair to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) will help support the Whale Track Ireland project that is to determine what large baleen whales are doing in Irish waters. It will enable IWDG to survey waters not currently covered by its network of citizen scientists and to carry out dedicated fieldwork to photograph, biopsy and use drones to measure the body condition of both humpback and fin whales.
“The IWDG is committed to protecting these species and their habitats and in order to achieve this, we need to gain a better understanding of how they use Irish waters,” said IWDG CEO Dr Simon Berrow. “With Ryanair support, we will strive to ensure Irish waters remain a sanctuary for whales and in so doing we will help create healthier ecosystems for both marine species and coastal communities.”
Ryanair published its first environmental policy statement last year, saying it was committed to minimising its environmental and climate impact (see article). It set a goal of achieving an emissions rate of 61.4 grams of CO2 per passenger km by 2030, 9% lower than its current rate and, it claimed, 31% lower than the average of the four other biggest European airlines. It also committed to IATA’s long-term target of a 50% net reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 against 2005 levels.
As well as introducing the voluntary mechanism to allow customers to offset the carbon cost of their journeys, Ryanair said it would work to remove all non-recyclable plastics from its operations over the next five years.
“We are already Europe’s greenest airline, operating the youngest fleet – average age of six years – with the highest load factors,” said Jacobs.