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Best and worst airlines for carbon emissions

As the effects of climate change bite, only one airline appears to be taking carbon emissions seriously, a new report suggests.

A new report names low-cost carrier easyJet as the airline that is trying hardest to slash carbon emissions in order to tackle climate change, the BBC reports.

Its planes are expected to emit 75g of CO2 per passenger km by 2020, compared with as much as 172g for the far worse-placed Korean Air.

Other companies named and shamed as having the weakest plans to cut emissions are Air China, China Southern, Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines.

The report by the London School of Economics, backed by institutional investors under the Environment Agency Pension Fund, suggests that by 2020 easyJet’s emissions per passenger kilometre will be less than half that of many other carriers.

This is due to the budget airline’s modern and efficient fleet – and its efforts to fill every seat.

Uneasy targets
The aviation industry has a goal to freeze its overall emissions by 2020 and halve emissions by 2050. But this may not be achieved, as only easyJet seems to be meeting these targets.

“Investors have a clear message to the aviation sector: when it comes to carbon performance, they must be in it for the long haul,” says Faith Ward of the Environment Agency Pension Fund.

“That means setting stretching emissions reduction targets to 2030 and beyond. It’s clear this is not currently the case.”

The report also stresses that airlines are trying to reach their targets by using the controversial process of offsetting, where they plant trees to compensate.

“Offsetting is no substitute for a clear strategy to reduce emissions,” Ward says.

On track?
Estimates state that aviation causes 12% of transport-related emissions. The International Civil Aviation Organisation insists to the BBC that the industry’s carbon-cutting plans are “on track”.

But while planes are becoming more efficient and burning less fuel, there is also a relentless rise in the number of people around the world who want to fly.

It can also be argued that while easyJet can be praised, by cramming its planes using low fares it is also encouraging a new generation of frequent flyers.

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