British Airways Will Carbon Offset Domestic Flights

Filed Under: British Airways

As climate change and the environment are becoming increasingly hot topics, airlines are realizing that they have to do more. That’s likely more due to social pressure than anything (after all, most airlines only care about their bottom line), but in parts of the world we’re seeing airlines get serious.

With that in mind, British Airways has just made quite an interesting announcement.

British Airways Will Carbon Offset Domestic Flights

As of January 2020, British Airways plans to offset carbon emissions on all UK domestic flights, making them the first UK airline to do so. They’ll do this by investing in verified carbon reduction projects around the world.

British Airways operates up to 75 flights per day between London and 10 UK cities, including Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Isle of Man, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Belfast City, Inverness, and Jersey. Their domestic emissions total about 400,000 tons of CO2 per year.

Furthermore, from 2020 British Airways’ carbon emissions on international flights will be capped through the United Nations’ carbon offsetting scheme.

British Airways CEO Alex Cruz had the following to say:

“British Airways is determined to play its part in reducing aviation’s CO2 emissions. To solve such a multi-faceted issue requires a multi-faceted response and this initiative further demonstrates our commitment to a sustainable future. It also follows our announcement to partner with renewable fuels company, Velocys, to build a facility which converts household and commercial waste into renewable sustainable jet fuel to power our fleet.”

IAG Will Achieve Net Zero Carbon Emissions By 2050

IAG (the parent company of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Vueling, etc.) has also announced the goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

They say they’re the first airline group worldwide to commit to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This contributes to the UK’s commitment to a net zero carbon economy by 2050, and the UN’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.

In order to contribute towards this goal the airline will be investing $400 million in the development of sustainable aviation fuels over the next 20 years.

How Customers Can Offset Their Emissions

While domestic UK customers won’t need to offset emissions (though certainly still can), those traveling internationally can use British Airways’ carbon offsetting tool, which allows customers to calculate their emissions.

The following examples are given of the cost to offset flights:

  • London to Madrid in economy — £1
  • London to New York in economy — £5
  • London to New York in business — £15
  • London to Los Angeles in economy — £8
  • London to Los Angeles in business — £24
  • London to Hong Kong in business — £26

Bottom Line

Kudos to British Airways on this development. British Airways is one of the most, erm, cost conscious airlines, so it’s both surprising and great to see them do this. Of course domestic flights only constitute a small percentage of their route network, but this is a nice move nonetheless.

What do you make of this move by British Airways, and what do you think their real motive is?

Comments
  1. London to LA in economy — £8
    London to LA in business — £24
    Does it mean flying Business Class tripling the carbon emission

  2. Nice intentions vs outcomes. Probably feels good handing money over to someone else so they can less consciously dump their emissions into our air.

    From everything Ive read so far carbon offsetting is a sham. Illusion of green.

  3. I wish I would have thought of starting a carbon offset business. It is basically indulgences for the church of global warming.

  4. Doing it is better than not doing it, but it’s only putting on a sticking plaster compared with the underlying problem.

    Interesting that they’ve confined it to their domestic routes. A quick glance at their wikipedia destinations page shows just how many of their domestic routes they have scrapped (clue: the majority of them). BA is not actually very interested in domestic traffic, preferring to leave it to cars or trains. An interesting contrast with KLM, which runs routes to more UK airports than BA, feeding traffic into Schipol.

  5. @Stevest Most carbon offset schemes are are indeed a scam that profits only a few people. However the new ‘Compensaid’ scheme from Lufthansa is not a scam as you can compensate by buying real sustainable aviation fuel (made in Los Angeles) and it will then be used on Lufthansa flights from LAX.

  6. I have always thought of carbon offsets as the environmental equivalent of the Catholic Church selling indulgences. At the end of the day, everyone knows it is a sham but it makes us look like we are doing something well connected people benefit.

  7. @Max – How brilliant. “Do you feel guilty about how much carbon you are putting into the atmosphere? Absolve yourself of this climate sin by buying us fuel for our aircraft!”

  8. All those laughing and making snide remarks about carbon offset schemes may have a point, but then again most are probably too old to care about the environment and future generations – as long as their bank accounts are full. Surely, doing something is better than nothing! Perhaps more of what @Max said about Lufthansa’s fuel scheme is warranted.

    Anyway, what I wanted to say is that even if you don’t care about the environment and only worry about profits and you believe it’s all a scam, the reality is that consumers are starting to drive these business decisions. I work a lot with companies that produce “recyclable”, “compostable”, “sustainable” packaging for fresh produce. Are they doing it because it makes them feel good? Not really – this is what the market is turning to, and companies don’t want to get behind the eight ball and look bad. Same goes for all companies that are introducing “green” policies.

  9. Dennis I am fairly young but jot only that, i am far more environmentally conscious in my day to day than any of my “green” friends.

    Again, it’s about outcomes not intentions.

  10. It’s too simplistic to say all or even most carbon offset programs are scams. Some are, others aren’t. You have to do your research and there are many organizations and third parties that will certify and are reliable and objective in their certification process. Just saying it’s an indulgence is not helpful and that it reduces a complex issue to a very simple term

  11. @Stevest,

    I think thats fine and good, but (maybe like Dennis) when the first thing out of someone’s mouth is “it’s all a sham”, they’re usually interested in doing nothing. As long as you can maintain it won’t help anything or is somehow a fraud, you don’t actually have to change any of your behaviors that make you comfortable (Fly 50 times year, eat beef 10 times a week, drive a car everywhere thats getting abysmal miles to the gallon).

    I’d be far more curious what these people who maintain its a sham. (some are, some aren’t as mentioned) think should be done to combat the very real issue of Climate Change? I’d also prefer solutions be real measures meant to address the issue, but a lot of this just seems like people looking for a reason to do nothing and hope the world they lived in will never change.

  12. Reducing air travel and choosing more fuel efficient fleets in non-premium seats is likely more effective, but carbon offsets don’t hurt and many are tied to effective accounting programs.

    An ethical person should strive to minimize and use carbon offsets where necessary until aviation implements drastically less impactful technologies such as electrification and biofuels (not perfect, but there may be a role).

  13. I just went to the BA carbon offset tool, and the programmes it supports look like a mixed bag.

    For example, the Cordillera Azul programme prevents deforestation. This is good, but it doesn’t really reduce CO2 from its current levels, it just prevents the level of net CO2 emissions from rising. Not sure this truly qualifies as an “offset”.

    The Darfur cook stove programme is more promising, in that it not only prevents deforestation but reduces total energy use. I’m a little concerned about the recipients being able to buy LPG in the future if the programme ends or is cut back.

    The Cardamom programme again prevents deforestation and works to provide alternate incomes. Again, this doesn’t reduce current CO2, so is it an “offset”?

    Not a “sham”, but less that it sounds like at first glance.

  14. I am sorry but SAS is already carbon offsetting all passengers as long as they register an Eurobonus Account (Their FFP)
    No strings, no fees.
    BA is doing too little, too slow in European standard

  15. The global warming hysteria has been going for the last 30-35 years. It’s plenty of time to observe how well (or not!) the predictions made by the global warming priests fared.

    This is what London’s Observer wrote in 2004:
    “Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters.

    A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a ‘Siberian’ climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.”

    This is a typical example. The horror stories peddled by the global warming propagandists have not materialized.

    And what about the global warming priests themselves? Have you heard that the Obamas bought a house on an island a few hundred yards from the ocean? Granted, Obama might believe that he actually stopped the oceans from rising.

    But the gullible little people believe in it. I guess the cult gives meaning to their lives.

  16. Carbon offsetting is a feel-good false equivalence scheme wherein the benefits are privatised but the losses are socialised. I’ve seen no research indicate that they’re actually effective, so I’ll reserve further comments

  17. @Dennis – You can be environmentally concsious, and a full believer that climate change is the biggest problem we face today, but also believe that most of these offset programs are scams. It can work both ways. I think there needs to be better vetting in this arena. Footing the difference in bill for a type of fuel the airline should be purchasing anyway is not “offsetting your carbon footprint.”

  18. I wouldn’t trust them at all. What projects are they investing in? Probably ones that they’re already involved in, nothing but a money grab.

  19. @CraigTPA

    British Airways is definitely use the Voluntary model, so all those projects fall under REDD+. The major qualification for this projects is simply that they wouldn’t exist without this sort of carbon financing. So all they have to do is prove that without this financing the trees would be cut down. Hence the offset.

    I imagine that they avoided investing in real projects due to a conflict of interest, but like I said previously, I’ll wait for the quantification study to see, and until then I am highly doubtful.

  20. @CraigTPA

    British Airways is definitely using the Voluntary model, so all those projects fall under REDD+. A major qualification for these types of projects is simply that they wouldn’t exist without this sort of carbon financing. So all they have to do is prove that without this financing the trees would be cut down. Hence the offset.

    I imagine that they avoided investing in real projects (renewables) due to a conflict of interest, but like I said previously, I’ll wait for the quantification study to see, and until then I am highly doubtful.

  21. @GuruJanitor, I do agree with you. I’m sure there are scams out there collecting money under the guise of climate change programs.
    However to do nothing is also a problem. Every step in that direction is a good thing. As I mentioned, in this corporate and shareholder ruled society, the market has to drive it for real outcomes.

  22. Just tell me how much I have to pay, and to whom, to shut these eco-loonies up. I’ll do it just to stop them frightening the 10-year-olds into thinking they will all be dead by prom night.

    And where can I buy a carbon offset for my New York strip?

  23. I think AF just announced the same measure to counter pressures to lower taxes for train rides and rise taxes on flights.

  24. As per usual in europe/Britain, it’s the people on the margin where every dollar counts who get screwed (eg. Yellow vests).

    Most of these carbon offset programs are scams that just claim what already happens. Of course, the owners of these schemes get very wealthy.

  25. I agree that airlines only care about their bottom line but I find your snide tone a bit disingenuous as you could be accused of possessing the same attitude. You travel needlessly around the world creating a rather odious carbon footprint all in the name of lining your pocket. What makes you any different than the airline industry? Pot = Kettle.

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