Budget airline easyJet has announced plans to offset the carbon emissions from the fuel used for its flights on behalf of customers. It will undertake to operate net-zero carbon flights through participating in forestry, renewable and community-based projects, accredited by two of the highest verification standards, Gold Standard and VCS.

Trees in Little River Canyon National Preserve in Alabama
easyJet will operate net-zero carbon flights through participating in forestry projects © zrfphoto/Getty Images

“We acknowledge that offsetting is only an interim measure until other technologies become available to radically reduce the carbon emissions of flying, but we want to take action on carbon now," says the airline's CEO, Johan Lundgren. "People have a choice in how they travel and people are now thinking about the potential carbon impact of different types of transport. But many people still want to fly and if people choose to fly we want to be one of the best choices they can make."

An easyJet plane on the tarmac
easyJet has announced its plans to offset the carbon emissions from the fuel used for its flights © easyJet

It may not be as simple as that, according to Dr Roger Tyers, who researches sustainable consumption, carbon offset and taxes in the aviation industry at the University of Southampton. He says that carbon offsetting now seems increasingly inadequate in terms of time, effectiveness and ethics. Trees take years to plant, grow and remove carbon dioxide, he explains. In terms of effectiveness, a recent EU study found 85% of offset projects studied failed to produce the promised carbon reductions.

A view of a forest and mountains in Vermont.
New trees can take years to remove carbon © RVCL Rob/Shutterstock

As it happens, the aim for the British carrier is to reduce the amount of carbon offsetting undertaken as new technologies emerge, and it has committed to support innovative technology. This includes a joint research project with Airbus on hybrid and electric aircraft, supporting Wright Electric on its aim of producing an all-electric ‘easyJet sized’ plane for short-haul flights, and working with Rolls Royce and Safran on new technologies to reduce the carbon footprint of flying.

For further information, see easyJet's website here.

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