easyJet’s New Focus For Net Zero
On Monday 26th September, easyJet revealed their new “roadmap to net zero” emissions by 2050.
Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet said:
“Challenging the status quo is in easyJet’s DNA. From making flying affordable for everyone over 25 years ago, to leading the sector on decarbonisation.
Today, we’re the first airline to outline an ambitious roadmap in which zero carbon emission technology plays a key role to take us to net-zero emissions by 2050 and ultimately to zero carbon emission flying across our entire fleet.
Decarbonising aviation is a major undertaking for which the whole sector is coming together. But we also require the support from UK and European governments to help us achieve net zero and we have clearly outlined the actions needed from them.”
Responding to the customer
A nationwide easyJet study revealed 82 per cent of respondents believed zero carbon emission flying is the best option to decarbonise aviation. It further revealed that 76 per cent thought companies needed to urgently demonstrate how they are operating more sustainably and explain how they will achieve net zero.
A shift in focus
easyJet’s strategy diverts away from carbon offsetting, towards carbon removal. In fact, the airline will be phasing out its carbon offset scheme by the end of 2023. This means the airline will no longer pay for offsets as standard. The new focus on carbon removal will be achieved through three main processes: the use of hydrogen aircraft, the adoption of more efficient aircrafts, and Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs).
The measures are set to reduce easyJet’s carbon emissions per passenger kilometre by 78 per cent by 2050 (from 2019 measures).
easyJet has set their sights on the use of hydrogen aircrafts, positioning these as the long-term solution to de-carbonising the industry. This will enable the airline to fly on zero carbon emission hydrogen-powered aircraft removing the need to rely on nature-based offsetting. Partnerships will play a large role in the development of these hydrogen aircrafts. So far, easyJet’s partnerships have included working with major players including plane maker Airbus, engine maker Rolls-Royce, GKN Aerospace, and others.
For the short term, easyJet has been investing in more efficient aircrafts. These include 168 Airbus NEO aircraft. These utilise a blend of traditional fuels and SAFs, easyJet’s partnership with Q8Aviation will ensure the airline can meet the blending mandates proposed by the UK and EU.
Q8Aviation will continue to supply easyJet’s SAF. This is produced by 100 per cent renewable and sustainable waste and residue raw materials including used cooking oil and animal fat waste.
Will this make flights more expensive?
The budget airline has stressed that rather than increasing the cost of tickets, as many fear, the transition will help to keep fares affordable. CEO Johan Lundgren stated:
“The cost of carbon will be so expensive […] if you don’t transition to zero emission technologies, I think that the taxes on carbon will only go one way. I think it is completely in line with being an efficient low-cost airline that we are setting out to lead.”
Currently, SAFs which play a large role in easyJet’s carbon cutting plans, cost up to four times as much as traditional aviation fuels. With fuel comprising approximately 20-30% of airline costs, the current relative expense of SAFs is off-putting for airlines. However, as discussed in a recent article on Developing a Sustainable Air Hub in Singapore, SAFs are set to play a huge role in hitting sustainability targets.
Sustainability is a huge focus of this year’s World Aviation Festival. easyJet will be speaking on the 6th October answering “How easyJet are developing zero emission technology partnerships to make hydrogen flying a reality.”
Article by Jess Brownlow