British Airways is now offering customers the chance to address their emissions from flying by purchasing certified carbon removal credits. This innovative new approach has been made possible through the airline’s new upgraded climate platform, CO2llaborate, marking another milestone in the airline’s BA Better World sustainability journey.
While the carbon removal industry is still comparatively small in scale, scientists, governments and regulators including the United Nations recognise carbon removal projects as a vital tool to help address climate change.
Traditional carbon offsets are created when a project avoids, reduces or removes additional CO2 emissions from the atmosphere. Carbon removals specifically describe projects that remove CO2 from the atmosphere or from the carbon cycle. Both carbon offsets and carbon removals are important for meeting global climate goals, but the expectation among United Nations climate scientists is that over time, there will be a gradual transition towards supporting more carbon removals as the technological solutions, verification standards and policy support mechanisms mature.
With its parent company International Airlines Group (IAG), British Airways has supported research and innovation to help accelerate the development of cutting-edge carbon removals solutions since 2019, as part of its commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner. The airline is committed to supporting a variety of innovative carbon removals solutions and is considering projects that are immediately available and independently verified today, as well as more innovative technology solutions.
While the airline offsets the carbon emissions on all its flights within the UK, British Airways’ customers flying further afield are already able to purchase verified, high-quality carbon offsets and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which is added to the existing fuel pipeline at Heathrow Airport through its partnership with Phillips 66. They can do this via the airline’s CO2llaborate platform to estimate and address their carbon emissions when flying. The platform, created in partnership with CHOOOSE™, enables customers to understand their flight emissions and take steps to address their climate impact before or after their journey or directly from their seat on board, and by adding carbon removals to the portfolio of options available on CO2llaborate, customers have even more control and choice on ways to address the carbon footprint from their flights. Customers are able to calculate their flight emissions and use the adjustable slider to select the amount of SAF versus verified carbon removals, or SAF versus verified carbon offsets they wish to purchase. This new proposition is believed to be the first time an airline has offered customers this portfolio of options to address their emissions.
From today, British Airways’ customers have the option to select a blend of two recognised and independently certified carbon removal projects on the platform, with more projects planned to be added over time.
Blue Carbon Mangrove Project
The Blue Carbon Mangrove Project is a nature-based project (where plants absorb carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis) in the Indus Delta Area in Pakistan. The project will support greenhouse gas removal by reforestation and revegetation of approximately 225,000 hectares of degraded tidal wetlands with mangrove and other species to absorb carbon dioxide, stabilise the area and protect the coastal area and communities.
Freres Biochar Project
The Freres Biochar project in Oregon, USA, sees the company’s biomass power production plant produce biochar, a carbon-rich charcoal-like material that is created when agricultural and wood waste is used as fuel. The process locks carbon into the solid material and prevents it from naturally decaying, locking carbon away and keeping it out of the atmosphere for several hundreds of years.
Carrie Harris, Director of Sustainability at British Airways, said:
“In 2019, when we committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, we identified that a vital way to meet this goal would be by using carbon removals and we currently expect that these could contribute up to a third of our total action. While we continue to drive action to reduce our emissions now, including by improving operational efficiency, investing in more fuel-efficient aircraft and scaling up the availability of sustainable aviation fuel, we’re excited to be supporting research and innovation to accelerate the scale-up of carbon removals solutions.
“By choosing carbon removals projects as part of their action to address the emissions associated with flying, our customers are not only joining us on our journey to a more sustainable future, but also helping accelerate the development of the vital carbon removal industry.”