Swapping carbon – using carbon offsets

Alasdair Whyte
By Alasdair Whyte November 1, 2019 17:50

Swapping carbon – using carbon offsets

You may not have realised it, but lots of aircraft manufacturers are not particularly fond of their rivals. So, when they are all agreeing on something – as they did on sustainable aviation fuel at NBAA-BACE last week – it is worth paying attention.

There was a lot of discussion about sustainable aviation fuel – and some attendees were wearing badges saying “#IWantMySAF” – but it was not the only environmental news. Gulfstream quietly announced that it will now help its operators offset flights.

“Many of our operators want to leverage the benefits of business aviation in an eco-friendly way and this allows them to do so,” said Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream. “Through their participation in this service, they can be part of the solution for meeting aviation’s goals for global emissions reduction.”

Carbon off-setting is not new. Carbon emitters (like aircraft owners) can reduce their impact by investing in projects that remove carbon from the air – like planting trees. One carbon offset represents the reduction of 1 metric ton/2,205 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions – one gallon of jet fuel creates 21.095 pounds of CO2 per gallon (or one litre 2.527 kg).

But this is all a bit hard to visualise.

“A carbon credit is abstract but what we are actually selling is development of a project, a project that can be in your own community,” says Nancy Bsales, who has specialised in carbon and business aviation flights for more than 15 years. “So, the secret is to look beyond the credit to the project.”

Bsales adds: “If aircraft owners can see that they have invested in cooking stoves in Kenya that have not only reduced carbon but improved the health of women and children, or landfill gas capture that means that parts of New Jersey no longer smell of garbage, or planting trees, they can really understand the benefit.”

As fuel burn is already tracked by operators, Bsales says it is very simple to calculate offsets – some operators simply email her once a year.

Bsales stresses that carbon offsets are just one part of the solution along with things like sustainable aviation fuel and new technology – she underlines that aircraft are becoming more efficient all the time.

She also feels that this a real turning point for the market. “Fifteen years ago, I would talk to an operator or a pilot and they would often look at me and say this is “BS – we will never be interested,” says Bsales. “But a lot came back a few years later and have kept offsetting. And if you completely disagree with the idea, that is fine. But it will be part of the regulatory landscape in the future.”

She adds: “It is simple, it is inexpensive, and you can do it now.”

Alasdair Whyte
By Alasdair Whyte November 1, 2019 17:50

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