EasyJet will become the world’s first major airline to operate net-zero carbon flights.
British budget airline EasyJet announced that it will immediately start offsetting fuel emissions from its routes.
EasyJet, who recorded 96.1 million passengers in 2019, has beaten British Airways and Lufthansa in being the first airline in operating net-zero carbon flights. The move comes after the collapse of its major competitor Thomas Cook and the mounting pressure that has grown inside the aviation industry as it rushes to address its environmental impact.
“We recognize that offsetting is only an interim measure, but we want to take action on our carbon emissions now (…) Aviation will have to reinvent itself as quickly as it can.”, said Johan Lundgren, EasyJet’s chief executive.
Since mid-November, the British company has been offsetting all flights, which is said to cost about £25m in the next financial year through schemes to plant trees or avoid the release of additional carbon dioxide, according to reporting from The Guardian.
Plane contrails: A big problem
New Scientist writes that the innocuous white trails that criss-cross the sky may not be as harmless as they look. In fact, they might have contributed to more global warming so far than all aircraft greenhouse gas emissions put together.
High-altitude clouds like cirrus warm the planet by trapping heat. Contrail “cirrus” does the same thing, but the question is: how much? We know that contrails trap some extra energy in the atmosphere: their radiative forcing trapped 10 milliwatts per square metre (mW/m2) in 2005, according to an estimate by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That compares with 28 mW/m2 trapped by all of the CO2 released by aircraft engines since the start of aviation. However, the IPCC estimate only took into account relatively fresh, visible vapor trails that exist for just a few hours. Afterwards they spread out and become indistinguishable from normal cirrus. In this form they may trap energy in the atmosphere for many more hours.
Unnecessary emails, another problem
The sending of one email is estimated to produce 0.000001 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, and while there are more than 3.8 billion e-mail users worldwide, this imminent necessity when using the internet could be hurting the environment more than we can imagine.