Following easyJet joining the UN-backed Race to Zero campaign in November last year and commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the airline is today announcing its interim carbon reduction target, a 35% carbon emissions intensity improvement by FY2035 on a FY2020 baseline. Since 2000, over a 20-year period, easyJet has already reduced its carbon emissions per passenger, per kilometre by over one-third.
The target aligns with the Science-Based Targets (SBT) sectoral decarbonisation pathway and has been submitted to the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) for validation. The SBTi is a partnership between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which guides companies on their decarbonisation journeys, in line with the Paris Agreement. easyJet worked as part of the Technical Working Group (TWG) of dedicated experts from industry and NGOs who provided detailed input during the planning phase and on various drafts of the guidance and tool.
SBTi requires airlines to decarbonise within their own operation, thus not using out-of-sector carbon offsetting or other market-based mechanisms such as ETS (Emissions Trading System).
The airline plans to achieve this ambitious target through a combination of fleet renewal, operational improvements and efficiencies, airspace modernisation and the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel:
- Fleet renewal: easyJet has one of the youngest and most fuel-efficient narrow body jet fleets operating in Europe and is the second largest single brand operator of A320neo family aircraft in Europe. All new aircraft deliveries between FY’22 and FY’28 will be Airbus NEO aircraft. They are at least 15% more fuel efficient than the aircraft they replace and provide a 50% noise reduction. Switching to more fuel-efficient current generation aircraft as well as upgauging to larger aircraft has a significant impact to reduce carbon emissions in the short term due to higher absolute fuel efficiency and lower emissions per seat.
- Operational improvements and efficiencies: easyJet continues to operate its aircraft as efficiently as possible and is always looking for efficiency improvements. This includes adjusting standard operating procedures, which helps to reduce fuel usage and therefore carbon emissions, for example single-engine taxiing on arrival and departure, using advanced weather information to improve navigation performance or engine washing to remove debris, which improves the air turbine performance. The airline is also using new software and AI to identify further operational efficiencies. This is complemented by flight efficiency partnerships with key stakeholders such as Airbus, Collins Aerospace, NATS and Eurocontrol.
- Airspace modernisation: This is crucial for the entire industry as it is the most achievable source of reductions right now as more direct flight paths lead to shorter flying times. easyJet is working with stakeholders and public authorities in order to make progress on the modernisation of airspace, including projects such as the Single European Sky. These are necessary for a more environmentally-optimised and efficient air traffic management system. The Single European Sky has stated an ambition to deliver 10% carbon emissions savings from European aviation.
- Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF): easyJet will use SAF at scale in the interim in order to achieve material lifecycle carbon emissions reductions in comparison to kerosene. There are a number of proven production pathways which can produce SAF from a wide range of feedstocks, from municipal solid waste to used cooking oils.
The airline is currently also finalising its roadmap to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. From 2035 onwards, zero carbon emission technology is expected to play a key role and easyJet is working with partners across the industry, including Airbus, Rolls-Royce, GKN Aerospace, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions and Wright Electric, on several dedicated projects to accelerate the development of zero carbon emission aircraft technology. This is a cross-industry effort and as a significant European airline easyJet not only provides the airline and customer perspective to its partners but also demonstrates to aircraft manufacturers that there is airline demand for zero carbon emission aircraft.
Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet said:
“Decarbonising aviation is the challenge of a generation, but we know it can and must be done. We have now embarked on our journey to net-zero and while there will be challenges along the way, I’m really excited about what lies ahead. It is on us to protect the benefits of aviation for generations to come, while at the same time ensure we do all possible to protect our planet for them.”
Sustainability is a holistic issue, so in addition to directly addressing our carbon emissions from flying, we are also mitigating the broader environmental impact from our operations. This includes:
- Eliminating more than 36 million single-use plastic items used on our flights and continuing to ensure that any residual waste is recycled as much as possible, while always looking for more ways to take action.
- The introduction of new crew uniforms made from recycled plastic bottles. Forty-five bottles go into each uniform – with the potential to prevent 2.7 million plastic bottles from ending up in landfill or in oceans over the next five years. The garments are fashioned from a high-tech material that is made using renewable energy sources.
- Sustainability has been a key driver when making decisions on which suppliers easyJet works with. For its on board range easyJet selects brands wanting to make a difference by reducing their use of plastic and their carbon emissions. To support a drive to operate more sustainably, production of food has been moved more locally, so the product will travel fewer miles to reach its destination, reducing its overall carbon footprint.
easyJet is nominated as Europe’s Leading Low-Cost Airline 2022 by World Travel Awards.