EasyJet’s plan to offset emissions clearly falls in line with now trendy environmentalism, but unfortunately it has little to do with really improving the climate situation on the planet, aviation industry experts have told RT.
Earlier this week, the UK airline vowed to become the first major carrier to operate net-zero carbon flights by planting trees and investing in green projects. The idea is not actually new. Other large airlines like British Airways and Lufthansa offered passengers the chance to pay a little extra to compensate for their carbon footprint, according to independent international affairs and aerospace industry analyst Alessandro Bruno.
He says that airlines are not alone in jumping over themselves to come up with initiatives like this. This happens due to the current public sentiment, but the problem is that it does not matter whether such projects work or not. The point is to publicly show that the company is responsible and “doing something.”
The analyst believes that the controversial teenage activist Greta Thunberg is one of the reasons why EasyJet and some other firms decided to adopt offsetting.
“It’s become more important to pretend you do things. I would call this ‘the Greta phenomenon’ because we’re going to see a lot more of this and not just from airlines,” Bruno told RT. He added that if the firms fail to fall in line with the green approach, they may be simply “targeted and people may start to boycott these airlines.”
“Because of Greta, environmentalism has become reduced to carbon dioxide removal which is frankly a ridiculous exercise.”
Greenpeace has already described EasyJet’s pledge to invest in ecological projects as “jumbo-size greenwash,” casting serious doubts that offsetting schemes work at all.
EasyJet has a vast fleet of 318 Airbus aircraft that operate in 30 countries. Given that their aircraft emit at least 30,000 tons of CO2 per year, it seems almost impossible to plant as many trees to entirely offset their carbon footprint, according to Dr. Elmar Giemulla, a leading expert on air and traffic law at Berlin University of Technology’s Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
“You need 80 trees to compensate for just 1 ton CO2. So you would have to plant at least 2,400,000 trees just to outweigh the EasyJet CO2. Pretty unlikely,” he explained to RT. “So the initiative is more an attempt to put the current heat off.”
However, it does not mean that any efforts to tackle climate crisis are futile. While Giemulla thinks that alternative kinds of fuel can make a difference, Bruno noted that more fuel efficient planes would help. Thus if they have environmentally-sustainable fleets they can become environmentally sustainable for real, the analyst believes.
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