The coronavirus outbreak has grounded thousands of planes
Many UK airways have committed to reaching the goal of net-zero carbon emissions in 2050. In 2026, it’ll be mandatory for all airlines worldwide to guarantee that their emissions remain constant. However, they must also ensure that the UK aviation industry plans to increase the number of passengers they serve by 70 percent within the next three decades.
To achieve this, airlines will plan to fly their planes at or close to total passenger capacity and use cleaner burning fuels. However, the remaining emissions that airlines want to reduce between one-third and half of the total will likely come from market-based strategies like carbon offset and emissions trading.
There’s a chance to offset the carbon footprint of an airline ticket. The Ryanair payment page website recommended the possibility of a “carbon offset contribution” of PS2 for the returning flight that goes between Gatwick in the direction of Alicante. Airlines that seek government bailouts will likely use carbon offset and emissions trading to prove they’re serious about setting their emissions on a lower path. But what exactly are they, and do they provide the best solution to climate change?
Avoiding issues with offsets
The concept behind offsets is eliminating your emissions by reducing comparable emissions elsewhere. This can be accomplished by purchasing carbon credits under or through an Emissions trading system where a credit usually equals one metric ton of CO2. When a carbon credit gets “retired” – essentially ripped up – it will save one ton of CO2 that would otherwise be released by the companies or countries who offer carbon credits.
For instance, you can also consider investing in offsetting schemes known as clean development mechanisms that aim to cut down on emissions from developing countries by supplying eco-friendly cooking stoves. Carbon elimination programs seek to remove carbon by planting trees or developing techniques to absorb carbon dioxide from the air.
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Trading in carbon credits and offset schemes could help projects reduce carbon emissions and eliminate carbon from the atmosphere if they’re ambitious enough and should be in operation regardless, without the benefits being wiped out by the companies who use these schemes to continue causing pollution. For instance, taxes on the airlines and passengers could help finance offset projects aiming to reduce, at minimum, the carbon emissions per flight and frequent flyers being penalized more.
However, sustainability goals for airlines must be based on genuine emission reductions at the source. This would require a drastic decrease in the number of trips conducted each year, particularly those with viable alternatives to travel, such as rail. As a prerequisite for any post-COVID-19 bailout, airlines must spend a lot of money on research and development technology that allows carbon-neutral flights like batteries and electric engines. The advertising of the rescued airlines must also inform their customers regarding the impact on the environment of their flights.
The aviation industry will have to transform dramatically to lessen its role in climate change. In the context of governments considering government aid for struggling airlines, they can make permanent adjustments. However, if offsets are viewed as the primary method to allow them to achieve net zero emissions without reducing the number of trips or control over how airlines allocate their profits, the initiatives could end up being nothing other than “greenwashing. If you want to take real action to combat aviation emissions, now is the best time to lift our heads out of the cloud.