Published on 9th August 2019 at 8:38

This week I spoke to the Centre for Aviation in Sydney about how we are confronting the challenge of climate change.

It comes at a time when we’re hearing about more and more climate events around the world. Europe is facing record temperatures this summer and ice sheets in Greenland are melting at an extraordinary rate.

It’s well known that air travel contributes two per cent to global carbon emissions, but what isn’t well known are the efforts the industry is putting into reducing this impact.

Airlines globally are aiming to halve CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 2005 levels. From 2021, we’ll have carbon neutral growth on international flights – the first industry to make this happen.

Despite this, there are campaigns in some parts of Europe to shame people into not taking flights. And various governments are considering new surcharges on airfares, similar to the ‘sin taxes’ on alcohol and cigarettes.

These are retrograde steps.

Think of the impact this would have on the global economy, on trade, on jobs, on tourism and on connecting isolated parts of the world, like Australia.

The focus should be on how we reduce the impact of flying – not simply to stop doing it.

Airlines are taking action on climate change, but we need to do a better job of telling people that.

I’m proud of what Qantas, and our customers, are doing.

Worldwide, 1 in 100 customers offset the carbon generated from their flight. For Qantas it’s 1 in 10. And since offering a bonus of 10 Qantas Points per dollar spent on carbon offsetting, the number of Frequent Flyers choosing this option has risen by 15 per cent. (Interestingly, we’ve seen a 26 per cent increase in offsetting among small-to-medium enterprises who are part of the program.)

We are working with governments and industry to increase the use of biofuels here and overseas. We’ve also set a target of reducing waste onboard our flights by 75 per cent by end-2021 and removing 100 million pieces of single use plastic by end-2020.

So, is aviation part of the problem? Yes. But we’re making good progress with solutions, and coming up with answers that are better than just “stop flying places”.