Cathay Pacific and Dragonair become first airlines in Asia to launch a carbon offset scheme
Chongming Wind Farm, near Shanghai
Wed 19 Dec 2007 – Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways and its sister airline Dragonair have launched ‘FLY greener’, a voluntary carbon offset scheme for passengers that is a first in Asia. The programme will help fund projects primarily in Asian countries, particularly China, where the two airlines have routes.
FLY greener is an extension of an in-house programme that already offsets the carbon emissions associated with travelling on business for employees of either airline, which has already raised nearly HK$1 million (US$128,000) to buy offsets within the past year. The airlines have pledged to match the contributions of their passengers dollar for dollar for the first three months of the programme.
To offset their travel, passengers can access the FLY greener site at the airlines’ websites and use the online calculator to work out how much it will cost to offset their emissions based on the distance of their flight and the class of travel. Flight emissions are calculated using historical fuel consumption data and passenger loads, and based on a figure of 3.15kg of CO2 released per 1kg of jet fuel burnt.
For example, on a roundtrip flight between Hong Kong and London, an economy passenger would be responsible for 1.62 tonnes of CO2 emissions for which the cost works out at HK$122.78 (US$15.74). Based on 2.43 tonnes of emissions, the business passenger would pay HK$184.17 (US$23.61), with the traveller in first class paying HK$245.66 (US$31.49) for being responsible for 3.24 tonnes.
Passengers can also buy as many offsets as they like for previous journeys taken on Cathay Pacific or Dragonair. The airlines claim to be the first to offer passengers the option of paying for their offsets by using their frequent flyer airmiles.
“Climate change is a huge issue that needs to be addressed with some urgency. It is vital we show that we are a responsible airline that is committed to being part of the solution to the problem of greenhouse gas emissions generated by the aviation industry,” said Tony Tyler, Cathay Pacific’s Chief Executive.
“We are excited to be the first airline in Asia to launch a carbon offset scheme that will make a positive contribution to tackling the very serious environmental problems we face in this region. This is just one of a series of environmental initiatives from the Cathay Pacific Group and we remain committed to working to reduce our own impact on the environment as well as working with groups such as IATA on industry-wide initiatives.”
The airlines are currently sourcing projects in China and aim to target the Pearl River Delta area in particular. This region, which includes Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Zhuhai, has developed into the world’s largest and most extensive manufacturing hub, with a corresponding increase in pollution.
The airlines’ first project is the retirement of credits generated by a wind farm near Shanghai. The power generated by the high capacity turbines, the first to be deployed in China, is being fed into the Shanghai power grid. The emissions reductions generated from the wind farm have been verified in accordance with the Voluntary Carbon Standard, developed by The Climate Group, The International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
It is estimated that two large coal-fired power stations are built in China every week to meet the country’s ever-growing demand for power. It has set a target of generating 15% of its total energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.