EasyJet to stop offsetting CO2 emissions from December

EasyJet to stop offsetting CO2 emissions from December

Airline unveils ‘roadmap to net zero’ strategy focusing on sustainable fuel and more efficient planes

EasyJet is to stop offsetting carbon emissions by its planes as it unveiled a “roadmap to net zero” emissions by 2050 including introducing hydrogen-powered jet engines.

Other elements of easyJet’s new strategy include using sustainable aviation fuel, more fuel-efficient planes and carbon capture to reach the target.

EasyJet insisted it was the most ambitious plan yet from an airline to tackle emissions, while it continued to partner with firms on exploring new technologies.

The airline signed a three-year contract in late 2019 to offset all its CO2 emissions – a world first, and a move that was then said to be costing the airline about £25m a year, but it was regarded by some as greenwashing the environmental damage caused by its passenger jets.

Last year, a joint investigation by the Guardian revealed that major airlines including easyJet were using unreliable “phantom” carbon credits to claim their flights were carbon neutral. Under the logic of offsetting, the CO2 emissions from flying are theoretically cancelled out by paying to stop emissions elsewhere, such as those from deforestation.

EasyJet said it would no longer pay for offsets for bookings made after December. It has not disclosed the sums it eventually paid for the controversial offsets but said it “will not invest less” in making flying less polluting and more sustainable.

In a launch event on Monday at easyJet’s Luton airport headquarters, its partner Rolls-Royce displayed a jet engine to be powered by hydrogen, and said it was “progressing fast towards hydrogen combustion ground tests”.

EasyJet plans to curb CO2 emissions by 35% per passenger kilometre by 2035 as part of its new roadmap, and said the steps it was taking had been validated by the Science-Based Targets initiative.

The most significant imminent reduction, of about 15% of current emissions, would come through fleet replacement of conventional kerosene-fuelled planes.

EasyJet has ordered 168 more A320neos from Airbus, and the manufacturer will also retrofit the existing fleet with technology to optimise flight descent and fuel burn.

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This is an excerpt from an article by Gwyn Topham and Patrick Greenfield earlier published by The Guardian.

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