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Qantas Group targets net zero carbon emissions by 2050; $50M investment in sustainable aviation fuels

The Qantas Group announced it will reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 in a major expansion of the airline’s commitment to a more sustainable aviation industry. With actions starting from today, the Australian national carrier will immediately double the number of flights being offset; cap net emissions from 2020 onwards; and invest $50 million over 10 years to help develop a sustainable aviation fuel industry.

Qantas is the only airline group to commit to cap its net emissions at 2020 levels, and the second to commit to net zero emissions by 2050. In total, these commitments are the most ambitious carbon emissions targets of any airline group globally.

Qantas, Jetstar, QantasLink and Qantas Freight will offset all growth in emissions from domestic and international operations from 2020. This includes offsetting all net emissions from Project Sunrise, the carrier’s plan to operate non-stop flights from the east coast of Australia to London and New York, should the project proceed. This will also extend to domestic flying, meaning that growth on key routes like Melbourne-Sydney will be carbon-neutral.

The aviation industry, which contributes around 2% of global CO2 emissions, has committed to halving emissions by 2050 compared to 2005 levels. It was the first industry to make such commitments. Qantas had signed up to those commitments but will now exceed them.

Qantas will work with industry, research institutions and governments to develop the long-term solutions to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation industry over the next three decades.

Offsetting flights. Qantas currently operates the largest carbon offset program in the aviation industry, with around 10% of customers booking flights on Qantas.com choosing to offset their flights.

From today, Qantas and Jetstar will double the number of flights offset by matching every dollar spent by customers who tick the box to fly carbon-neutral. By matching our customers’ commitment, we expect even more people to offset their emissions.

This additional investment will see Qantas Future Planet, which is already the largest private sector buyer of Australian carbon credits, support more conservation and environmental projects in Australia and around the world. Existing projects include protecting the Great Barrier Reef, working with Indigenous communities to reduce wildfires in Western Australia and securing over 7000 hectares of native Tasmanian forest.

Sustainable aviation fuel. Qantas will invest $50 million over the next ten years to help develop a sustainable aviation fuel industry. Sustainable aviation fuel can reduce carbon emissions by 80% compared to traditional jet fuel, but are currently almost double the price.

Qantas will work with governments and private sector partners to support the development of sustainable aviation fuel in Australia and overseas to make it more viable and increase demand throughout the industry.

Fuel-efficient aircraft. The national carrier will also continue to reduce its emissions through continued investment in more fuel efficient aircraft, more efficient operations such as single-engine taxiing, and smarter flight planning to reduce fuel burn.

Qantas is on track to replace its Boeing 747 fleet by the end of 2020 with the more fuel-efficient B787 Dreamliners, which burn 20% less fuel than aircraft of a similar size. Jetstar’s A321neo (LR) aircraft, which begin arriving next year, use 15% less fuel than the aircraft they are replacing.

The Qantas Group continues to work with aircraft and engine manufacturers on next-generation technology that will deliver a further step-change in emissions reduction; however, innovations such as electric aircraft engines are still some time away.

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