If you want to be more environmentally-friendly, you’d recycle your trash, use less disposable items, and… abstain from travelling?
Not many people realize this, but air travel is a huge contributor to climate change and global warming. In the US, for instance, transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, with flights accounting for 12% of total emissions.
On top of that, there’s the fact that global demand for flights is growing. If we continue at our current pace, analysts predict that emissions from air travel will increase by up to 7x by 2050.
The good news? Many airlines are now taking steps to become more eco-friendly and sustainable, and do their part for the environment.
In this blog post, we share the green initiatives that Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific, Air France and United Airlines have implemented, and discuss how these will impact the environment.
1. Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines (SIA) states that its goal is to be a company that can “continue to develop without devaluing the environment”.
As part of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG), SIA is working on developing lower-carbon, renewable aviation fuels from environmentally and socially sustainable sources. In the long run, the company hopes to use biofuels to power our planes.
On top of that, SIA has also put into place various initiatives to help with fuel efficiency. Their initiatives include:
Airframe and engine performance improvement packages
Usage of lightweight crockery and cargo containers
Reduction of operational items
More frequent use of mobile ground power units and pre-conditioned air units to reduce the operation of on-board auxiliary power units.
2. Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic is widely known to be a sustainable airline, and they’ve been going to great lengths to reduce their carbon emissions for years now.
In 2011, the airline started working with cleantech company LanzaTech to convert industrial waste gases and other waste streams into low carbon jet fuel.
In 2012, Virgin Atlantic also started replacing their fleet with quieter and more fuel efficient aircraft. This is an ongoing process, and Virgin says that through a combination of aircraft and engine efficiencies and network planning, each new aircraft is 30% more fuel efficient than the aircraft it’s replacing.
3. Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific, which is Hong Kong’s largest airline, aims to do business in a sustainable manner, and continuously improve upon their environmental performance. The company takes a structured approach towards addressing climate change, with their key principles being:
Maximizing fuel efficiency and reducing fuel wastage
Addressing inefficiencies of air traffic management
Acknowledging the role of economic instruments such as emissions trading
To empower its customers to give back to the environment, Cathay Pacific has even launched a “Fly Greener” programme that allows Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon customers to the carbon dioxide generated from their air travel.
How does the programme work? It’s fairly simple — customers can log onto Cathay Pacific’s website and use the carbon offset calculator to work out the emissions that their air travel will generate. From there, they can go ahead and purchase carbon offsets for their journey.
4. Air France
The Air France-KLM Group aims to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 20% by 2020; to do this, they’ve outlined a Climate Plan, with actionable strategies such as promoting alternative sustainable fuels for the aviation industry.
Air France-KLM has made great leaps in becoming more sustainable and environmentally-friendly in the past decade or so; here are some of the results that the group has made since 2011:
11% less carbon dioxide emissions (per passenger per km)
21% less energy consumed
8% less waste generated
5% less water consumed
12.8 million reconditioned, reused and recycled headsets
126,500 trees planted in Panama via the CO2ZERO KLM programme
350,000 hectares protected via a Madagascar reforestation program, supported by Air France
5. United Airlines
United Airlines is another airline that has done plenty to save the environment. In 2018, United Airlines announced that it would reduce its carbon emissions by 50% by 2050. In June 2019, the airline also launched a “Flight For The Planet”, which was billed as the most eco-friendly commercial flight of its kind in the history of aviation.
The “Flight For The Planet”, which was powered using sustainable biofuel, was carbon-neutral. As compared to a standard flight, this eco-friendly flight saved 3.3% of fuel, offset 40 tonnes of carbon dioxide, and reduced waste by 33%.
Want To Go Green & Live More Sustainably?
It’s great that airlines are increasingly becoming more environmentally; that aside, we’d also like to see businesses doing their part to go green.
Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t that difficult for a business to reduce their emissions, and adopt environmentally-friendly practices.
In fact, iSwitch has helped many organizations (like hotels!) become carbon neutral.
Here at iSwitch, we offer electricity that is 100% carbon neutral, and consumers enjoy up to 30% savings when using iSwitch instead of other electricity retailers.
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