A Green World (Cup) – offsets and multi-modal travel

A recent BBC article has critiqued Qatar 2022’s sustainability claims and as emissions have said to have gone up 3 times more than originally reported then questions have been raised, and solutions suggested for a greener tournament by external consultants, academics and experts.

At FGA we are sustainability consultants; our work spans aviation, sustainable mobility, fuels and sport. We work on the energy transition on a societal level and applied business level, and find it helpful to bring discussion and debate to unearth facts, opinions and misconceptions. We noticed some points in the article and have a few thoughts:

Offsetting means paying for an external project to reduce or sometimes absorb the emissions a country, organisation or person is emitting. But some argue in many cases they simply don’t work as intended, as, for example, it can be hard to ensure a forest stays standing or be sure a renewable power plant would not have been built even without the investment. Environmentalists are therefore concerned offsets can act as a “dangerous distraction” from what’s really needed – cutting emissions

There are many experts and investors that do believe offsets work. For them to work we mean that they are bankable projects, so commercially viable, as well as reduce or sequest carbon and especially the ones around biodiversity, rewilding, some reforestation but not just planting trees alone, and renewable fuels. With sustainable aviation fuels, however, they can also be classed as ‘insets’ so it’s not “paying for an external project to reduce or sometimes absorb the emissions a country, organisation or person is emitting” but in these cases you are creating a process to make sure what you used is using lower carbon and carbon sequestering material which is in or from your own supply chain. Some fuels can even be made from extracting carbon from the air called efuels but these ones are a bit more future thinking right now.

We started our work as researchers and were granted by Booking.com alongside the University of Amsterdam back in 2018 to raise awareness for sustainable travel.FGA began later working on developing frameworks and alignment further in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals and Science Based Target, who accept sustainable aviation fuels or alternative fuels as they can also be called. The long term thinking is that new energy, including aviation fuels,  become regenerative or circular. 

However, there is no real taking away from the fact that when major events happen it generally is asking a lot of people to fly. Train alternatives definitely do need to be worked into solutions which we are working on amongst all the multi-modal solutions; and organisations like Formula E work with governments on infrastructure projects, communication, EV adoption as well as work on travel consolidation and Science Base Targets in general.

Julia Pallé, Formula E Sustainability Director, recently commenting “Air travel is the biggest challenge we are facing to keep the world under 1.5 degrees. There are no silver bullets yet as this industry is researching and transitioning however one interesting solution to explore is SAF enabling a direct plug and play replacement for kerosene”.

Formula E are number 1 in the new ESG sustainability index in sport so looking to them for leadership is a good idea. UEFA’s President Aleksander Čeferin said they would not carry out or the polycentric tournament model again like was in place for EURO 2020 and since UEFA have made considerable efforts to become more sustainable and promote sustainability further including putting out a new job vacancy for not just a Mobility Manager, as previous times, but for a Smart Mobility and Aviation Specialist so step-by-step things do move forward to a greener tournament. An original project called Life TACKLE came with the support of UEFA in 2018/19, where FGA Sports consultant Sarah Wilkin worked on reporting and facilitated one of the first sustainability workshops in football in the U.K. this February at St George’s Park.

FGA Sports have worked to rearrange routes, tournaments and host cities and have seen that it is possible to reduce emissions by over 30% by doing so, so it is definitely a tool that can be part of a carbon reduction plan, when working with a Data Scientist. On another note we found that in grassroots football that the Birmingham County FA catchment area was creating 1.2 million travel movements and so now plans to consolidate these are underway.

“It’s going to be an iterative process. It’s not easy also due to the politics in very large organisations so there are a few things to navigate, then there is the budget to pay for all the solutions and the consultancy work. How do you convince the CFO it is worth it and commercially sound? Something our team always thinks about.” Says, Sarah Wilkin of FGA Sports.

Save today, Play tomorrow is a football-centric sustainability program working to ensure grassroots football is consolidating travel, amongst other commitments. Grassroots spans 11 million people in the U.K.  so Save Today, Play Tomorrow encourages a bottom up approach to carbon reduction. It’s worth checking their recently award winning initiative and joining forces to sustain the game. 

Read more articles from us such as ‘Turning resistance in to flow‘ and ‘Bridging the say/do gap‘, ‘How do we market climate change?‘ and an op-ed with did with The Sustainability Report called ‘Turning football’s attention towards sustainable travel‘.

FGA & FGA Sports works on low carbon solutions across sports with a travel focus.

Contact sarah@flygreenalliance.org to discuss cross-sector work in travel, fuels and football sustainability initiatives which we see are getting the job done.

The Economist Sustainability Week – a few key highlights

Attending The Economist in-person this October after the initial March ‘22 event we attended was interesting and productive.

FGA were part of the first speed networking session for 5 chosen startups which was being trialled, many joined in.

Many linkedin and card exchanges happened every 3 minutes

As well as this we heard from many CEOs and Sustainability Directors across the 3 day event.

A few key facts discussed:

$750 billion in energy transition investment in 2021. In March it was said we needed $2.5-5 trillion to reach transition goals. This isn’t there yet but it is a vast improvement. 

Did you know?

1,000,000 – million – 6 zeros 

1,000,000,000 – billion – 9 zeros ($750,000,000,000 – close to $1 trillion) 

1,000,000,000,000 – trillion – 12 zeros 

The lobbying group 350.org has calculated that $8 trillion has been divested from fossil investments to date which has more than quadrupled recently. In a presentation FGA created in 2020, which included information from 350.org, this figure was said to be $1.5 since 2012. This is fast acceleration.

This is good news for clean tech advancement and it was said that 85% of new energy is now renewable. 

In electricity terms we use 60 giga watts per year and need to eliminate 50 to get down to 10. With just 5-7 years to achieve this. Still a very big task.

Unilever’s Thomas Lingard called for activism and radical collaboration and said:

“If you have a high carbon business and you are not willing to shift you are not going to have a business down the line”

Again transition plans were called for. When Unilever put their sustainability plans to the board 99.5 agreed to go ahead. ‘No brainer’.

Roche’s Richard Erwin on the same panel as Lingard discussing business travel and scope 3 reduction:

“Scope 3 we haven’t got a clue…I use to jump on a flight to San Francisco for 2 hour meeting, I won’t be doing that anymore”

Business travel seemed to be the tricky one to handle and the one many mentioned as a challenge, realising it needed to change/reduce a lot. This is likely why The Economist held at least 3 panels with aviation specialist appearing on them:

Day 2: The power if public-private partnerships in decarbonising the hard to abate

With Rolls Royce’s Warren East moderated by COPs Nigel Topping discussing tech. 

Day 2: Clearing hurdles on the way to sustainability – becoming a net-zero company

easyJet’s Jane Ashton was asked – Will flying get more expensive? Jane alluded to the fact that carbon prices are increasing so it is likely. RyanAir’s CEO this year saying the same. Ashton, discussing easyJet’s new plan which cuts offsets, uses Science Based Targets (by WWF) and investment in hydrogen. 

On an earlier panel, African businessman Mo Ibrahim said the Congo’s forest sinks about 4% of global C02, not a small figure from the original carbon capture tool: trees. Although offsets are often negated we know it’s not the trees that are the problem but ethics, monitoring and trust in reforestation.

A final aviation panel on Day 3: Developing better, more sustainable fuels with British Airways, Convex Insurance, US Department of Energy and our own CEO, Sarah Wilkin, on future feedstock, finance, fuel cost sharing mechanisms and new stakeholders such as Convex, sports and other were discussed. FGA discussing the report they have created which can be requested on the form here.

Contact sarah@flygreenalliance.org for you advisory needs

How far will governments at the ICAO Assembly back net-zero aspirations?

Progress is being made – but not enough, argues Sarah Wilkin, founder and chief executive of the Fly Green Alliance. “We need to accelerate the work to reach 2050 targets. And it’s not just aviation,” she says. “We also need to embrace more cross-sectoral stakeholders such as finance, corporate travel and sports. There’s a greater chance of us achieving targets with more global companies coming on board.”

#aircraft #aviation #zeroemissions #sustainableaviation #netzero

Read more: https://www.flightglobal.com/airlines/how-far-will-governments-at-icao-back-net-zero-aspirations/150328.article

FGA discussing transition finance, SAF and the role of the lessors

Air Finance Journal, 29th September 2022

With limited options to significantly reduce emissions in the short-term, the aviation industry is pinning many of its hopes of reaching net zero by 2050 on sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

“It’s going to have to be SAF,” Todd Wolynski, partner at law firm White & Case, tells delegates at Airfinance Journal’s LATAM 2022.

He notes the rollout for electric and hydrogen technology for large scale commercial aviation isn’t viable in the medium-term. In the meantime, ramping up the SAF supply chain is the most realistic solution however even this solution will require a mammoth effort from stakeholders.

“For it to be truly green, you have to have feedstock close by and the offtake has to be local. It can’t be concentrated in a few producers, this needs to be global.

“It is one part of the bridge but for it to truly take off, you need the investment, the financiers to back it and sponsors to put capital into it and you need the airlines to commit to purchasing it.”

Wolynski argues that government support for the SAF industry will be crucial to draw that capital required to finance it.

“You need an entity that is focused on internal investment in the country, you need government backing and guarantees to give the bankers the confidence to put that much time and money in a project like that,” he comments.

The production and supply of SAF is seen as a transition mechanism to meet the industry’s 2050 target, and lenders in the aviation sector are now exploring ways to help finance airlines’ ability to purchase SAF for their flight activities.

Sarah Wilkin, chief executive officer of Fly Green Alliance, says leases with SAF usage written into the contract are allowed to be deemed as sustainability-linked transactions. She reveals that the company is already working with lessors and asset managers on due diligence around SAF-linked leases.

“Arena Aviation Capital has an MoU in place around such a sustainability-linked lease and they have found capital in the Asian markets… even though it’s in the early stages, we can see that it is possible,” Wilkin said during an ESG conference hosted by Bird & Bird.

“All the conclusions of ICAO and other industry bodies indicate that SAF is going to be the answer to reducing emissions as the industry transitions to net zero.”

One impediment is the metrics involved and how ‘sustainability’ is measured within such transactions.

“Could the investor or lessor put equity in the actual production or is the onus on the airline itself? That is what we are trying to figure out,” she adds.

Michael Halaby, managing director at MUFG, called for more transparency around recent sustainability-linked leases and loans, the details of which are not always fully not disclosed, in order to better inform the market.

“We don’t necessarily need to see the whole loan document, but it would be good to see something to know what has been done,” he comments.

“In the interest of this industry, we’re all rowing in the same direction, and it would be good to have more detail,” he adds.


easyJet stops carbon offset use

Why does this make sense for easyJet?

* Science Based Targets (SBTi) do not accept offsets as a carbon reduction

*However, sustainable aviation fuel is accepted as a reduction in aviation by SBTi so it is possible to use a SAF unit or credit instead, some view it is a different kind of offset or insetting, do you want to find out more?

*SBTi aligns with the life cycle analysis (LCA) that CORSIA proposes for airlines, which is created by the UN body ICAO, for all airlines; life cycle analysis counts how much carbon reduction there is across the whole process of making the fuel compared with using fossil fuels

*easyJet is working towards Science Based Targets as is 3821 other global companies which is set up by WWF, one of the most trusted organisations in planetary conservation

*it’s future focused and ahead of the curve decision

*supports avoidance of greenwashing accusations, even though offsets do have their role, many do not like to see just offsetting alone

Why does hydrogen make sense for easyJet over electric?

*they are a European carrier with flights between 30 mins to 5 hours – so medium haul flights with around 200-300 seats

*electric is only ever likely to support regional and very short haul flights due to the energy the battery can carry versus the weight of the battery

*airbus, Boeing and the major manufacturers (OEMs) are investing in hydrogen planes aiming for market use around 2035

*there is a new EU alliance ‘Zero Emission Aviation Alliance‘ to support the political will of hydrogen powered aircrafts which is the biggest technological change since aviation started earlier in the 20th century

*political will, societal acceptance and investment is what is needed to switch from hydrocarbon based fuel to hydrogen, not just tech alone

What else could easyJet still do?

*promote and buy sustainable aviation fuel now and in the medium term

*support more customers to know about sustainable fuels and reducing their own footprint in other ways (www.carbonfasting.com)

*lobby for hydrogen uptake and investment in Brussels

*carry out social listening to listen to all stakeholders including flight shaming arguments and work with independent consultants

Do you have other ideas and comments? Contacts us to share your thoughts. Read more on easyJet’s plans on GreenAir.

FGA’s Sarah Wilkin at The Economist Sustainability Week discussing SAF

Panel topic:

Biofuels have become a part of the everyday energy mix and now on the increase as part of energy transition targets. As regulations increase the aviation industry is accelerating use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) as a route to 2050 decarbonisation objectives. This panel will look at how sustainable aviation fuels are evolving and discuss what environmental impact they will have. How are SAFs being developed including investment opportunities in the sector? And how sustainable are they? Can SAFs be made in a way that does not damage biodiversity or compete with feeding the world?

Moderator: Daniel Bloch, Sustainable Aviation Fuel Manager, IATA

Time: 5th October, 2.30 BST /3.30 CET – live Q&A/pre recorded session

Agenda: read more


Sarah Wilkin, Founder & CEO, Fly Green Alliance (FGA)

Valerie Reed Director, bioenergy technologies office, office of energy efficiency and renewable energy, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Leigh Hudson, Sustainable Fuels and Carbon, at British Airways

Rachel Delhaise, Head of Sustainability, at Convex Insurance.

We are looking forward to an interesting discussion with our group of experts in aviation, fuels and finance.

Watch on demand: here.

Read our short sum up: here.

FGA will also be part of the startup networking session on 4th October in person. Read more online about the 4 other startups who will be part of this new Economist initiative: here.

#TheEconomist #marketconditions #investment #greenfinanxe #ESG#businesstravel#sporttravel#SAF#greentravel

What is respect in the workplace today?

As part of our diversity, equity and inclusion work we want to share an article we have written based on our response to recent tabloid headlines, LinkedIn virals, political news and day-to-day office politics. 

This is a collection of our thoughts on the ‘unwritten rules‘ of civil behaviour in the workplace. We welcome more thoughts on how to create a fairer and more equal and equitable workplace whether you are a PM or a PA.

Although we all do know what respect is in most cases, it can be a grey area or forgotten at times especially when we are angry, unhappy/happy/have high energy or want to bond with people over shared intell, so we want to go through and suggest some ways to truly respect our coworkers or future partners/clients, and work towards a healthy working environment. We suggest:

  • Do think about other’s mental health and reasons why they might be having a bad day
  • Not talking over people
  • Respecting personal time, unless agreed do not bother people outside of office hours
  • Learn about biases and be aware of them so you can avoid them, especially around gender, culture, parenting and LGBT+ topics
  • Don’t be aggressive or passive aggressive: do not have tolerance for any form of physical or verbal assault or provocation, be aware of your language and tone, avoid emailing/tweeting/posting when emotionally affected
  • No bad-mouthing or gossiping about colleagues or clients in or out of meetings
  • Respecting pronouns and the latest language or terms
  • Don’t steal ideas or cut people out; give credit where due
  • Don’t boast excessively, or over promise, both cause expectations to be skewed and cause disappointment
  • Allow others space to think, speak and have time-out
  • Don’t ghost people
  • Give a contract if work is being carried out and let people know as early as possible if you won’t renew
  • Your word should be as good as a contract, unless something changes a lot, which you should clearly explain, then try to stick to your agreements
  • Don’t share personal social media, videos, pictures or texts with other colleagues or the press
  • Smell clean and be clean 
  • Be on time to meetings and to work, and communicate if you will be delayed as early as you can, reschedule if you will miss the meeting
  • Communicate if you feel you are being disrespected, without fear of repercussions
  • Avoid winking at colleagues or visitors in the office, keep it professional
  • Be decent/be considerate

Can you think of any others?

When you move country you can read book about the culture so you know how to respect people but we don’t often have these rules in a workplace. Are these rules universal? Should we be adding more to the unwritten code of civil behaviour or spelling it out more clearly? We welcome your thoughts, additions and debate to support inclusion and decent behaviour.

What you put out there as an individual and what you are willing to put up with for yourself and others is how it all starts. We do know these standards get broken constantly (and we even maybe watch reality TV shows for entertainment dramatising all of these office politics) but if you are in the thick of it what can you do to make sure you are psychologically safe and get respect from your colleagues or those you are pitching to? It’s not always that easy and maybe making the unwritten, written, might help create a healthy office culture to be in. We hope so as having a bad time at work really affected people’s quality of life and is likely to cause high turnover for a business so it’s important to get this right.

This article is posted as part of FGA’s personal development and diversity, equity and inclusion work. You can read more about our thoughts and work here.

Independent consultants vs big firms

We’ve chosen to keep FGA independent, agnostic and flexible.


  • We can give advice which is truly sustainable and without an agenda
  • We make ethical decisions on who we work with and make sure we don’t cut those out that supported in the name of competition
  • Avoids ‘collaboration-washing’ – with conflicts of interest at play all the time commercially, working with an independent can get you to where you want to be without complications
  • Meaning contracts and NDAs can be signed quickly, will be agreed to and avoids grey areas later
  • A bigger consultancy/travel company may have the brand exposure but is that important when it comes to sustainability?
  • A personalised and bespoke service
  • We want to bring up topics that are blockers and need to be voiced
  • We want to be impartial
  • Be independent experts in sustainability, sustainable travel and fuels
  • We maintain integrity over commercial opportunity
  • Have collaboration in mind to avoid topics and solutions being blocked

Contact sarah@flygreenalliance.org to discuss your thoughts and experiences.

RECs vs Offsets

Are you unsure about the benefits of offsetting? If you are and many are debating offsets, an alternative is buying extra electricity from solar or wind which increases the supply globally (RECs or iRECs). Out of all of the energy sources we need more green electricity before any other commodity. In the UK Chris Goodall discusses in ‘What we need to do now‘ that we need 25 times more green electricity.

A REC is not an offset but does ‘offset/replace’ scope 1 electricity used and buying more than your scope 1 requirements can only be a good thing, if you still don’t want to offset as a company.

The main difference between renewable energy certificates vs carbon credits is what they offset. Where carbon credits help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy certificates offset electricity use from non-renewable sources. Instead of offsetting carbon, RECs offset kilowatt hours.

Giles Dickson and WindEurope reduced the price by 5 times over 10 years due to industry work. Offsets can also support the global energy transition. Read more about the case study of electricity from wind on page 11 of FGA’s report here.

Buying offsets and RECs can also be a way to redistribute wealth to lower GDP countries. The advice is don’t always buy the cheapest offset, find country you want to support, investigate what you are buying and how the country benefits from the production in the offset or REC in their country. This is what Gold Standard does to ensure it complies with the #SustainableDevelopmentGoals.

Offsets do have benefits and so does purchasing extra RECs.

Generally if we buy green electricity/RECs we buy them in a #Book&Claim way, meaning we never know where the electricity is, if it is in our house/office or another. Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) is working on a Book & Claim system for Sustainable Aviation Fuel #SAF too.

Contact sarah@flygreenalliance.org if you would like to discuss your sustainability and energy needs.

FGA works on the energy transition.

#solar #electricity #wind #energy #offsets #RECs #iRECS