Airlines Working on Their Carbon Emissions: World Savers Finalists
By Erin McDonough, The Daily Traveler
While travel is a great, powerful, potentially world-changing thing, the way we travel can do a lot of harm. These airlines are taking a close look at carbon emissions and coming up with ways to combat the problem.
World Savers Awards 2012 Finalists:*
About The Company: Finland’s largest airline, with more than 70 destinations, from the U.S to Russia.
How it's Making a Difference: Between 2008 and 2010 carbon emissions decreased by 439,000 tons. These numbers are consistent with the company’s goal to reduce emissions per seat by 41 percent by 2017. Finnair is making cuts on the ground too. In 2014, the company’s head office will relocate to a building constructed according to LEED Gold standards. And across all offices, paper consumption decreased 11 percent since 2009, and cardboard use decreased by 62 tons between 2009 and 2010.
About The Company: The world’s largest all-seaplane airline (with more than 50 planes) services British Columbia and is North America’s first carbon-neutral airline.
How it's Making a Difference: Harbour offset 11,700 tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2011 (the equivalent of removing 2,340 cars from the road for a year). It achieved this by including a carbon-offset fee in its airfares, which goes toward projects in renewable energy (like the Sunselect Greenhouse in Aldergrove, BC), organized by third-party company Offsetters. Since partnering with Offsetters, Harbour has offset more than 37,000 tons of carbon emissions.
About The Company: One of the world’s largest carriers, with more than 700 aircraft, flying to 211 destinations around the globe.
How it's Making a Difference: Lufthansa allows passengers to donate miles to the Trees for Life project, resulting in the donation of 32,000 saplings in South Africa. The project contributed to making the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa carbon-neutral through the cultivation of 82,000 trees. Lufthansa is pioneering new fuels, mixing in linseed oil and animal fat, for example. In 2011, the airline ran its first flight using a 50/50 blend of regular and bio-fuel. It aims to cut emissions 25 percent by 2020 compared to 2006 levels.
About The Company: A big player in the airline industry (5, 656 flights a day on average) that has still managed to improve its fuel efficiency by 32% since 1994.
How it's Making a Difference: United is the first U.S. airline to use a mixture of renewable algae-derived jet fuel and regular jet fuel. Sustainable Surprise: United was first to incorporate green cabin cleaning products (certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). In the past five years, it recycled more than 20 million pounds of aluminum cans, paper, and plastic waste.
About The Company: A U.S. airline with an eye for cutting-edge developments: In 2011, Virgin America purchased the Airbus A320neo aircraft, which will yield more than 15% fuel efficiency, emitting 3,600 fewer tons of CO2 per aircraft per year when it comes in 2016.
How it's Making a Difference:The carrier’s new fleet is 25% more CO2-efficient than other U.S. fleets, and in both 2008 and 2009 it ranked the lowest emitting carrier based on RPM (Revenue Passenger Miles—a basic measure of production). In 2009, Virgin America combined GPS with its ground-based navigation program, resulting in more wind-efficient routes and savings of 1.01 million gallons of fuel in 2010.
*Since 2007, Condé Nast Traveler has handed out our annual World Savers Awards to travel companies that are powerful forces of change within their industries. These are companies and hotel properties that excel in various categories: some contribute positively to local communities, some are active in environmental issues, some even protect wildlife. We'll announce this year's winners in our September issue, but over the next few weeks, we'll introduce you to all of the finalists and highlight some of the ways in which they are making us take notice.
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