Qantas has set an ambitious target to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 with a spate of new eco-friendly commitments.
The airline said in a release that from today it will double the number of flights being offset, cap net emissions from 2020 onwards and invest $50 million over 10 years to help develop a sustainable aviation fuel industry.
According to Qantas, these targets are the most ambitious set by any airline group globally.
Qantas, Jetstar, QantasLink and Qantas Freight will offset all growth in emissions from domestic and international operations from 2020 including all net emissions from Project Sunrise, the carrier’s plan to operate non-stop flights from the east coast of Australia to London and New York.
This will also extend to domestic flying, meaning that growth on key routes like Melbourne-Sydney will be carbon neutral.
Qantas and Jetstar will also double the number of flights offset by matching every dollar spent by customers who tick the box to fly carbon neutral.
This additional investment will see Qantas Future Planet, which is already the largest private-sector buyer of Australian carbon credits, support more conservation and environmental projects in Australia and around the world.
Existing projects include protecting the Great Barrier Reef, working with Indigenous communities to reduce wildfires in Western Australia and securing over 7000 hectares of native Tasmanian forest.
“We recognise that airlines have a responsibility to cut emissions and combat climate change,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said.
“Concerns about emissions and climate change are real, but we can’t lose sight of the contribution that air travel makes to society and the economy. The industry has already come a long way in cutting its footprint and the solution from here isn’t to simply ‘fly less’ but to make it more sustainable.
“We’re doing this because it’s the responsible thing to do, but hopefully it will also encourage more people to choose Qantas and Jetstar because of the action we’re taking.”
The airline industry has come under fire as of late due to the ‘flight shaming’ movement, which has taken off on a global level.
According to figures published in The Conversation, the airline industry uses 5 million barrels of oil every day, which contributes around 2.5 per cent of total carbon emissions, which could rise to 22 per cent by 2050.
The ‘flight shaming’ movement, which began in Sweden with the hashtag #flygskam, spurred thousands of people across Europe to pledged on social media they would not fly unnecessarily or would go a year without flying.
French and Dutch politicians have also joined the bandwagon, with France announcing earlier this year it would put an “ecotax” on airlines starting in 2020, and the Netherlands has floated the idea of imposing a €7 (AUD$11.50) flight tax on passengers in 2021.