Easyjet is leading the pack in terms of airline carbon emissions, a new study has shown.
The report into 20 of the world’s leading airlines from the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) at the London School of Economics found, however, that the industry is “failing to plan for long haul”.
Analysing CO2 levels per passenger kilometre for each carrier, the report found that Easyjet had the lowest emissions, both in 2017 and planning ahead for 2020. The low-cost airline is set to have 75g of CO2 per passenger kilometre by 2020; Alaska Air, in second place, had the figure at 87, while Qantas, in third, had 92.
The trio were noted for having carbon emissions in keeping with the 2C warming target set by the UN Paris agreement in 2015. IAG, the company which owns British Airways, ranked 12th, with a figure of 112.
At the other end of the table, Korean Air is expected to emit 172g of CO2 per passenger kilometre by 2020. The airline was reported to be out of alignment with international pledges on emissions, as were Japan Airlines and ANA Group, and Singapore Airlines, based on their 2017 data.
The report was produced with a view to inform environmental investors as to how airlines’ emission results might change up to 2025.
“The airline sector makes a significant and fast-growing contribution to climate change,” the report said. “Currently it accounts for two per cent of global CO2 emissions and 12 per cent of transport-related CO2.
“Landmark research of the corporate disclosures of 20 of the world’s largest listed airlines has found that their long-term targets appear to fall short of the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to below 2C. None of the 20 airlines has a target that clearly specifies how it will reduce its own flight emissions after 2025.”
An airline’s performance in the ranking is down to a number of factors, including the efficiency of its fleet, its emissions strategy and its load factor.
A spokesperson for Easyjet said its new A320/A321neo aircraft would produce 15 per cent less emissions than its previous generation of planes, and that it fills its planes “so that each flight is used productively”.
“We are also supporting the development of technologies that will allow aviation to move away from aviation fuel,” the spokesperson added. “We are working with Wright Electric, which is aiming to build an all-electric commercial passenger jet within a decade. We believe this has the potential to be used on short-haul routes in Europe.”
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) told the BBC the industry’s carbon-cutting plans were “on track”, while Korean Air said that it and Singapore Airlines carry more freight – which was not taken into account – and leads to higher emissions.