Oneworld commits to ‘net zero’ carbon emmissions

Boeing 767 of American Airlines in Oneworld livery (Source: Wikimedia Commons / Anna Zvereva)

Oneworld commits to net zero carbon emmissions in 2050 together with all member airlines. Other individual carriers have already set a direction to become more sustainable. But it is now for the first time that a group of airlines shares this ambition. 2050 is still very far away, so what can we expect now?

Oneworld

The cooperating airlines in the Oneworld alliance are American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia and Japan Airlines. But Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar, Royal Jordanian, Royal Air Maroc, S7 Airlines and Sri Lankan Airlines also belong to the group. The alliance started in 1998 with founding members American Airlines, BA, Canadian Airlines (to become Air Canada), Cathay Pacific and Qantas. Oneworld then officially started in 1999.

The goal of the alliance is to connect the services of its members and by that improve the experience of its customers. Especially for frequent travellers it can be interesting. For instance, when you fly within a certain alliance, you can make one booking consisting of flights operated by different carriers. Normally, frequent flyer programs are also well integrated. This implies that you can earn miles and enjoy elite benefits across airlines within the alliance.

Qatar Airways American Airlines codeshare (Source: Qatar Airways)
Qatar Airways and American Airlines are both Oneworld members (Source: Qatar Airways)

13 members, 1 plan?

The Oneworld group currently has 13 member airlines. In collaboration with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) the airlines agree to become carbon neutral within 30 years. However, this does not mean that they will only fly electric airplanes. The agreement is all about ‘net zero carbon emissions’. This means that there is not ‘net’ carbon emission. It is possible to become ‘net zero’ while still emitting CO2. For instance, when the airline also invests in generating renewable energy and tree plantations which replace or capture carbon emissions. In practice, the company can then ‘deduct’ this from emitted CO2.

The next step for Oneworld is to decide which measures to take to reach the goal. One of the considerations is to improve energy efficiency and invest in more sustainable fuel. But also decreasing the use of plastics and waste reduction. British Airways and Iberia shared their sustainability initiatives earlier. But also Japan Airlines, Qantas and Finnair already decided to become ‘net zero’ in 2050. Finnair even want to become net zero in 2045.

Great, but …

Of course, its great that Oneworld is committed to become more sustainable. And hopefully Star Alliance and Skyteam will follow suit. The question is whether 2050 really is that ambitious. Or maybe it’s just a date far away enough to keep all options open? The aviation industry isn’t particularly known for its sustainability approach. But who knows it’s a step in the right direction.

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