Qantas unveils net zero emissions plan

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Australian flag carrier Qantas on Thursday revealed its full plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 with an interim target to reduce carbon emissions by 25 per cent by 2030.

The airline outlined its goals with four major initiatives, the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), the phasing out of plastics, greater fuel efficiency, and a variety of Australia-based carbon offset projects, reports Xinhua news agency.

“We’ve had a zero net emissions goal for several years, so today’s interim targets are about accelerating our progress and cutting emissions as quickly as technology allows,” said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce in the announcement.

SAF is recognised by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as a key part of achieving net-zero emissions in the airline industry, citing that fuel can reduce emissions by up to 80 per cent.

Qantas has committed to using 10 per cent SAF in fuel uptake by 2030, and 60 per cent by 2050.

The airline has invested an initial A$50 million for the establishment of a domestic SAF industry and would purchase 10 million liters of SAF from British oil and gas company, BP, over 2022.

“Hydrogen or electric powered aircraft are several decades away, particularly for the length of most flights, so our plan is focused on the technology that is within reach today,” said Joyce.

Professor Rico Merkert, chair in Transport and Supply Chain Management at the University of Sydney, told Xinhua on Thursday that the interim targets set by Qantas were a “good first step”.

“The 2050 net-zero target is feasible but it is equally important to show how to get there and as such, the 25 per cent reduction is a good first step,” said Merkert.

He said it would be important to combine sustainably produced biofuels with more fuel-efficient aircraft.

He also noted that the complete phasing out of single-use plastics by 2027 included in the announcement would be significant, especially for long-haul flights.

Until new technology is available it is impossible to completely eliminate emissions, as such the final reduction in emissions would need to come through carbon offsets.

Representative for the IATA in Asia and the Pacific, Albert Tjoeng, told Xinhua on Thursday the association welcomed the Qantas climate action plan.

“In October 2021, the airline industry committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Qantas’ efforts will contribute to the aviation industry’s collective efforts to make net-zero 2050 a reality.”

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