The earliest adopters of the carbon offsetting scheme announced it will no longer pay to cancel out emissions generated from its flights starting from December. Instead, easyJet plans to redirect funds to sustainable aviation fuel and other emissions-cutting technologies to achieve net zero by 2050.
EasyJet, one of Europe’s largest budget airlines carrying nearly 68 million passengers each year, said it would stop offsetting carbon emissions by its planes for bookings made after December.
The announcement came on Monday, as the British low-cost airline unveiled its ‘Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050’, a plan that outlines six main strategies that will help it curb CO2 emissions by 35% per kilometre by 2035 and reach carbon neutrality by mid-century.
Europe’s second-largest budget airline behind Irish Ryanair was the first in the world to offset carbon emissions from all flights since late 2019, a move that cost the company about £25 million (US$26.6 million) a year and led to the offset of a total of nearly 8.7 million tonnes of emissions.
In order to “offset” or “neutralise” carbon emissions generated from their flights, airlines invest in carbon reduction projects elsewhere which are designed to help cancel out emissions deriving, for example, from deforestation.
According to the newly released plan, easyJet will reinvest the money in six main emissions-cutting technologies and strategies: Fleet renewal, operational efficiencies to save fuel, airspace modernisation, zero carbon emission aircraft, carbon removal projects, and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
The airline will use SAF, an alternative fuel source derived from a variety of feedstocks, to “bridge the gap to the transition to zero carbon emission aircraft.”
Despite having the potential to reduce up to 80% of lifecycle emissions compared to traditional fossil fuels, SAF will only be a “transitional measure” while the company focuses on the development of hydrogen combustion engine technology in partnership with Rolls-Royce.
“Hydrogen has zero carbon emissions and the potential to also significantly reduce non-CO2 effects from aviation. And when we speak about “easyJet-size aircraft”, this means we are addressing the narrowbody aircraft segment, which is absolute key to achieving decarbonisation at scale.” – the company said in a statement.
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