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Pollution Issues: Saving the planet through Carbon Balance.

People don’t normally want to pay more than they have to for business jet charter- but they are beginning to. Why?
    Europeans are worrying about the effects of global warming- and carbon off-setting for business jet aircraft passengers is rapidly becoming more common.
    Corporations- questioned by shareholders about green credentials- are getting their houses in order. Private business jet individuals- who just want to help save the planet- are also willing to pay more - and then there are others who simply think it’s the fashionable thing to do.
    Whatever the reasons- there is a gathering swell of opinion across Europe- and parts of the US- that while politicians wring their hands- and talk of future meetings on global warming- many passengers want to do their bit now. With this in mind some UK business jet charter organizations are offering carbon off-setting schemes.
    There was also the shock news- in January- that the EU is proposing to include aircraft of 5-700 kg (12-600 pounds) MTOW or heavier in its Emissions Trading Scheme program- instead of the expected minimum threshold of 20-000kg MTOW- and this has definitely focused business aviation minds.
    If the 5-700 kg proposal gets onto the statute books it will mean that all operators flying aircraft of more than 5-700 kg into EU airports after 2012- (which will affect non-EU aircraft flying into the region as well) will- for the first time- have to buy and sell pollution credits on the EU carbon market. Brian Humphies- European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) CEO says that he will continue to lobby to get the 5-700 kg baseline doubled or even lifted closer to the short lived- old level of 20-000 kg.
    The British Business and General Aviation Association (BBGA) is the latest to offer a voluntary ‘Carbon Balancing Scheme’ for its members’ customers- in partnership with the World Land Trust (WLT) charity. It will see BBGA business aircraft clients voluntarily paying an extra 1.5p (2.94 cents) per liter on JET A1 fuel used. World Land Trust will then use the extra money to invest in environmentally worthy programs in developing countries. They will buy forestry-based- fuel- based- or technology-based offsets.
    The WLT baseline figure for carbon balancing is approximately £6.15 ($12.05) per ton of carbon produced which currently equates to the 1.5p extra per liter of JET A1. The BBGA say that if all UK business and general aviation JET A1 users balanced their CO2 emissions- the cost would be approximately £3m ($5.88m) annually.

Industry-wide focus
“The scheme provides an industry-wide focus for combating environmental impact-” says BBGA Chief Executive Mark Wilson. “Business and general aviation has a good story to tell on the environment; we have invested in modern technology and use point to point routings- so our environmental impact is minimal. We are a responsible industry and we want to lead on environmental issues.”
    Participating BBGA members will receive a BBGA Environmental Award- to show customers their commitment to environmental issues. The BBGA also hopes to roll-out this scheme to operators throughout mainland Europe via the European Business Aviation Association. The BBGA plans to retain two percent of funds to cover administration- and to further develop environmental policy.
    The BBGA’s scheme will mesh with whatever mandatory Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) legislation is introduced by the EU. “Our concern over mandatory emissions trading is that the system will be such that it will penalize the smaller players and be unfair-” added Wilson.
    “It became apparent that whatever happened on official EU emissions trading legislation there was going to be a gap for our sector and we felt that there was a need to show environmental responsibility-” he continued. “Though we are very small in the polluting stakes compared with the airlines- [less than two hundredth of one percent of all emissions within the EU] we want to give a good lead to the business aviation sector.
    “Already the ETS proposal is loaded towards passenger carriage which is discriminatory towards business and general aviation. We hope that by discharging our environmental obligations through our scheme- we will be exempted from the ETS proposal.”

Ahead of the game
Some larger business jet aviation charter companies have already brought in their own carbon emissions balancing schemes because of concern from customers who do not want to be classed as ‘anti-planet’.
    Insiders say that some large charter organizations who undertake Government and Royal charters now have to offer carbon balancing schemes to be allowed to tender for the work.
    Air Partner plc- the world’s largest aircraft charter brokerage company- (with offices in 20 countries) is the only aviation holder granted a Royal Warrant by Queen Elizabeth II. It launched its CarbonNeutral JetCard carbon emissions offset program last December. It is working with the Edinburgh Center for Carbon Management (ECCM)- through The CarbonNeutral Company- which supports a portfolio of four climate-friendly energy and technological projects designed to fully offset all emissions from flying.    
    “There is a lot of interest in this-” said Richard Thomas- Air Partner’s Director of Marketing and Business Development. He explained that the ECCM has calculated the carbon footprint of four business aircraft types- which not only includes Carbon Dioxide emissions but also ozone- methane- water vapors and nitrogen oxides.
    The cost to Air Partner’s clients is a two percent supplement on top of the cost of the 25 hours pre-paid block time- and includes positioning as well as flying time.        
    Offsets are currently being invested into projects that include an agricultural methane capture program in Germany- and solar projects in India and Sri Lanka where villagers are weaned off kerosene that they use for light and heat. Here the CarbonNeutral Company has installed solar panels and sells the electricity for the same price as the kerosene. Thomas says that later this year (but yet to be finalized) Air Partner’s CarbonNeutral customers could invest their offsets in a wind turbine project in Turkey- and possibly a hydro electric project in Central America.
    Air Partner has been offering carbon offsets for its commercial customers (defined as chartering aircraft with 18 seats or more) for about a year.
    It’s going even further and working towards becoming carbon neutral for its operations (not the aircraft) within a year. “We have a green team working on this to see how we can roll it out-” explained Thomas. “Starting later this year- and based on the success of our JetCard program- we are going to be quoting on the carbon efficiency of each charter quote and how much it would cost to offset each trip. Customers can then choose to fly on the most carbon efficient aircraft type for their trips.”

More information from www.bbga.aero or www.airpartner.com

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