Ricardo was appointed by the European Commission (DG MOVE) to carry out a support study for the impact assessment of the ReFuelEU Aviation initiative.
FGA was invited as a stakeholder of the sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) development and debate to respond to a survey recently sent out by the European Commission. We responded to the initial consultation in April this year with our market observations, and through this follow up survey we have commented on market measures, EU policy and funding mechanism to support for the advancement of the deployment of sustainable aviation fuels. SAF is technology/energy source which reduces emissions from air travel by up to 80% on the lifecycle. As we begin to fly again it will be a key measure to the decarbonisation of the industry agreed and approved by the United Nations, European Commission, member states., International Air Transport Association (IATA) and many more.
This was the topic for our Friday 17th July FGA online presentation and discussion with the Business Travel Association members. The answer was in short, yes.
During the meeting we discussed sustainable aviation fuel, FGA sustainable travel solutions and the industry appetite for environmental changes to business on the build back better recovery path. The same day McKinsey published an article called ‘Make it better, not just safer: The opportunity to reinvent travel’, so we are seeing there is much thought leadership happening within the space on what recovery should and is going to look like in what we call ‘the new normal’.
As I personally saw from visiting London this week things are not normal. It was quiet, some cafes, bars and restaurants are closed. The air is cleaner and things are going to change. As more will work from home, how can we carve out what we want for the future and what will be important in work, play and travel? We have our approach – FGA Travel Smart: sustainable travel policies, sustainable aviation fuel commitments, more permanent remote working, mental health and well being initiatives. Have you started to think about yours?
Many believe that virtual meetings have allowed us to stay connected and continue business as close to usual as possible, and frequent and corporate flyers have said they won’t travel as much. At the same time many planes are being retired out of service like the A380 and B747 and questions are being asked about next steps for jobs and recovery in the travel sector. Tourism and travel accounting for 10% of global GDP so it is very important.
Travel is opening up, train journeys will increase, so will local holidays and road trips. So how can the aviation sector strengthen its offer to emerge greener? And how can they get customers on board with this too? It will cost money. Sustainability isn’t cheap. The Jet Zero Council has just launched in the UK, the Prime Minister stating: “We should set ourselves the goal now of producing the world’s first zero-emission long-haul passenger plane.” As Airbus announced this Summer that it does now have a plane that can fly on 100% sustainable aviation fuel, the statement of carbon-neutral air travel can become true in the coming years.
Our approach is more collaboration and global commitments. We started some work on 12th June when there were up 27 aviation stakeholders on our co-hosted online meeting to discuss next steps in green recovery (poster below). The aviation stakeholder subsequently made a joint build-back-better-commitment on 24th June which you can read about here, so collaborative recovery work is beginning. It’s a critical time for all businesses but especially those that rely heavily on fossil fuels, travel and events. The next steps will be key to success, survival and a good reputation.
Amex GBT, our partner, have made some progressive announcements during the pandemic updating their booking engine, Neo, to filter on carbon as well as price and time and were the first travel management company to offset their own travel just last month. Also choosing to partner with FGA, as they see their customers want more sustainable travel solutions which we are working on with the airlines, airports, the sustainability sector and corporates. Some will emerge stronger and smarter but it’s going to take some strategic thinking and change to do so.
Feedback from one attendee was: “We are starting to have initial conversations with some customers around sustainable travel policies for the first time. I guess the time is now”.
We carried out a few polls throughout the discussion on Friday and opened up the floor to the group of almost 50.
We asked the group if they knew what ESG was the abbreviation for. 11% had and 89% had not heard that it was: Environment, Social and Governance but up to 50% of the BTA members had heard of sustainable aviation fuel, we’ll keep checking on this figure until we’re at 100% .
ESG – who cares wins!
ESG is important work and hugely relevant during the pandemic recovery. This term created in 2005 from a report called ‘who cares, wins’ encapsulated something that businesses were saying were ‘nice to haves’ but ESG is fast becoming big business and a whole investment sector is now named ESG investments. HSBC saying that the pandemic has been the litmus test. ESG investments are performing well and are resilient compared to fossil based alternatives. ESG-behaviour is something that is also been noticed during the pandemic and that is how businesses are treating people during the crisis. The whole term is a humanitarian approach to business which has been deemed a ‘UN approach’ before and counter to how we should be doing business. Our belief is in a collaborative approach and as long as no competitions rules are broken then we don’t see why business can’t be done in this way.
Large corporation are beginning to align their business strategies with ESG which means integrating sustainability, inclusivity and diversity all through policies and practices and not just having a couple of carefully chosen projects to write some PR on, this is key going forward. FGA have spoken to many Chief Sustainability Officers who have said they are not early adopters or just simply no to us when it comes to discussing decarbonisation of their travel through sustainable travel policies and sustainable aviation fuel. We hope they may rethink their stance and open up conversations as we need to get this work going now and it isthe time. FGA are gaining great support but the travel industry needs adoption of the ESG principles and more purchasing of SAF quicker to recover well. Corporates are the ones that will have impact and we’re starting to get some to join us.
Corporations will need to embed these as core principles into doing business in a more ESG-friendly way which not only pleases the share holders, it pleases the employees and Gen Z who are choosing to only work for businesses which match their own values.
Aligning with ESG is a future move. Companies choosing this path are resilient and respected. There is a real change in attitudes in regards to leadership style, excess, being disposable and materialism. This doesn’t mean people don’t like eating nice food at nice restaurants and going on holiday but it is saying that people are finding interest and excitement in some other ways and ownership is less important; experiences and environment are much more important. Ipsos MORI discussed during a recent webinar ‘Thunberging‘, a new term used by online dating sites who have seen a 240% increase in the words ‘climate change’ on people’s profiles. Younger people showing they are looking for partners who share a ‘concern for climate change’ as a key value, who are also our future leaders and future customers.
What we have seen in the media is that there is a lot of ‘I do not accept this’ going on right now on mistreatment, race, environment, gender, mental health and lifestyle and it has all been very much put into the forefront of our minds. Whether you are a fatalist, an environmentalist, have conspiracy theories or think it’s not a coincidence that the pandemic is happening now then I think you will agree that it is a wake up call, we need to up our game, rethink a lot of things, become more circular and equally lead by sustainability and people as much as by profit – this is what ESG is about. We have many old systems, practices and models in place which serve very few. As a person that had many unworn clothes with the label still on in the wardrobe, was always throwing away uneaten food from the fridge and constantly going away, I had a few epiphanies in the last few years and more so during the pandemic. Have you?
Sustainable travel policies and FGA Travel Smart are ways companies can embed sustainability and carbon neutral targets into their business with a travel focus. We are presenting our work to travel management companies and corporate travellers as we believe through an alliance and leading examples we can shift travel into a new era, so we can keep it feeling special, exciting and cool but also more sustainable.
The aviation industry losses will amount to $88 billion this year having lost up to 80% of traffic (IATA) due to the pandemic. It has been estimated that the industry will take between 2-5 years to recover but strong leadership has been demonstrated by a progressive move by the industry to campaign for green recovery.
Recovery funds in the EU are available to industry partners working toward the Green Deal and green economy initiatives which the aviation stakeholders have continued to support, shown yesterday in a joint statement.
On 12th June Fly Green Alliance and Art Fuels Forum hosted an event with IATA, Airlines for Europe (A4E), European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), European Commission, KLM, BA/IAG, Lufthansa, SkyNRG, Airports Region Council and Fed Ex in an effort to join up thinking on how the recovery for aviation can be forged. It was concluded that action needs to be taken to build back better and to be able to serve their customer’s desires for more sustainable travel options.
Aviation relies heavily on fossil fuel based kerosene but sustainable aviation fuels are tested and ready to commercialise. It will require the support initially from governments, frequent flyers, corporate travellers, travel management companies, airlines themselves and the media to discuss the benefits of sustainable travel and also how to begin to do this. From market research by Ipsos MORI and Global Business Travel Association we’ve found that there is still little knowledge of what sustainable travel is and how to go about this. FGA are working on this and would be happy to present our findings and collaborate with you to enable a green recovery.
CORSIA was designed by the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) and stands for Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation.
“It’s a global market-based measure designed to offset international aviation CO2 emissions to help stabilize emission levels from 2020 onwards. Through this measure, offsetting of CO2will be achieved through the acquisition and cancelation of emissions units from the globalcarbon market by airplane operators.” (ICAO 2017)
CORSIA vs. EU ETS:
EU ETS (European Emissions Trading System) was designed and adopted by the EU Member States and only regulates flights within the EEA (both international and domestic). It is a cap-and-trade system for trading carbon allowances by over-and-under-emitters. Some airline associations have argued that because this system only covers flights within the EEA that it could be completely replaced with CORSIA, rather than adding additional administrative work to airlines that operate flights to and from Europe. However, the European Commission, and supporters of EU ETS for Aviation, would argue that CORSIA does not include domestic flights and its baseline is much higher than the one in EU ETS for Aviation, which is why a complete discontinuation of EU ETS for Aviation should not be considered.
The Current Discussion:
Amid the COVID-19 crisis, many industries have voiced a need for changing their protocol and operational practices. The aviation industry is at the forefront of this, especially because 2020 is a critical year for them. The CORSIA mandate, as originally drafted in 2016, would require all airlines in the scheme to offset their carbon emissions above an averaged 2019 and 2020 baseline. However, in light of the almost complete halt of aviation traffic, this baseline will be significantly lower than if it was calculated in a non-COVID operational capacity. IATA estimated that a 2019 and 2020 baseline would be roughly 30% more stringent than originally anticipated pre-COVID-19 pandemic, therefore IATA has suggested changing the baseline to 2019 only. This suggestion hasn’t gone uncontested, ICAO’s environmental committee, CAEP, completed their own analysis and found that allowing this deviation would reduce the offsetting potential to zero for the pilot phase starting next year. In addition, CAEP concluded that overall it would reduce the positive impact of CORSIA by 9 to 32 percent in all of its phases till 2035. Some NGOs, supported by analysis by Oeko-Institut have urged the ICAO Council to not make any changes at this moment, but rather to wait until the scheme’s first review in 2022.
Something to note, the current 36-member ICAO Council includes 8 European countries. A decision should be made by the end of June, after the Council’s 220th session, and formal adoption will happen in late October 2020. The 36 States include: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States. Argentina, Colombia, Egypt, Finland, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Greece, Malaysia, Paraguay, Peru, Republic of Korea, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Zambia, Finland, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Greece, Paraguay, Peru, Sudan, and Tunisia were just added in 2019.
The European Commission has decided to support the aviation industry’s request to adopt only 2019 recorded emissions as the new baseline. This is to support the heavily hit aviation industry and ensure other states’ support and participation in CORSIA.
The official ICAO Council meeting begun June 8 and concludes June 26 and should determine the association’s final ruling.
Last week we spoke to a few leading organisations working in the aviation industry to name a few IATA and EBAA. It is understood that the aviation industry is fully in crisis, predictions ranging from a 2 year recovery to up to 5 years to recover. There are certain planes (A380, B747) that won’t fly again so the industry will look different coming out of COVID-19 without a doubt.
Will we see greener aviation after recovery?
Although the European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean has recently stated that it is not the time to condition state aid for airlines on green measures, Austrian airlines have attached green conditions to bailouts and KLM/ Air France have been given €10 billion bail out, Minister Bruno Le Maire on Friday saying “is not a blank check”. The company will also be required to become “the most environmentally friendly company on the planet”. The Dutch Government saying they are supporting the Air France-KLM Group through these difficult times with the view to recover its competitiveness consistent with strong sustainable development commitments.
Green bailouts are thought of as a tricky to commit to with so much uncertainty right now. The US have not attached conditions and have put $25 billion into aviation. Virgin is at risk. Delta is bailed out. IAG have reserves. In Europe it seems that Ryanair, Wizz Air, easyJet and IAG are in the strongest positions right now it has been discussed.
An interesting article describing the technicalities of scaling fleets back into flight mode was described be Lauren Uppink Calderwood at World Economic Forum in Conde Nast Traveler last week which describes the complexity of the process, a definite good to know when considering the scale of the task at hand. And discussion seems to indicate that ticket prices are likely to go up due to social distancing rules and initial nervousness to fly. Although some airlines, like Ryanair have already said that they will not resume flights if they have to keep middle seats empty to fight COVID-19.
It was said this week that Fly Green Alliance might be a little early to the party but in conversation we said we will keep the party going. This was our founders personal pledge 7 months ago on linkedin.
How has grounding affected increasing the supply and production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)?
It is understood that the aviation industry can not pay 3 times the price of fossil fuel for SAF, and even more so now due to crisis and oil prices never being lower. The price of oil and diversification being discussed in Recharge by Head of the Energy Research Alliance.
We had already switched our thinking to aim for gaining joint financial responsibility between the airlines, corporate customers and hopefully in time government incentives.
We realised we needed to support the industry to green not to negate it but to get to a position where we can provide fuel for the airlines through a joint commitment to pay the premium, a commitment including policy change, a commitment from corporate travellers and then ask the airlines to partly pay for SAF too.
We are transparent by nature with our work so this is a call out for green recovery so that when the corporate travellers are ready to travel again that they travel smart , FGA Travel Smart™, that they support the airlines recover and work to meet 2050 targets to reduce their own emissions from travel but also to get SAF into the tanks of the planes. As traffic was predicted to double by 2036 ,due to our global increased travel and business, this is an immense task for the industry. We now know how much we miss travel or need it but also how cleaner things can be. Let’s work towards being smarter about this.
A cross-sector collaboration is required. So we’re looking for the early adopters, innovators, futurists, optimists, green recovery activists, thinkers and problem solvers. We need you to plant some seeds. We need drive, vision and understanding. We need you to keep the party going.
As we know, business travel isn’t all champagne and business class seats. In fact, for many of us, it’s never that. On the negative side it can sometimes be hard on health and can occasionally lead to poor well-being. So although there are numerous personal and professional stresses on us during this lockdown, for many, it is the chance to take a break from the daily grind.
This might be because we have been furloughed, or alternatively are working from home and avoiding regular commuting. It also means we can communicate with far flung corners of the world by technology, rather than those regular business trips we used to take.
Awareness of mental well-being and its importance has grown in recent years, even if it was hard-won by decades of long hours for many workers. The lockdown has shown flexible working is possible, with people able to be productive for their employers while spending time with loved ones. But once the lockdown ends, will we return to the way we were?
Before the current pandemic, corporations were working towards sustainability. To drop a few names, Amex GBT, SAP Concur, Microsoft and Mastercard are all on this journey with their business strategy aligning with Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria.
A high ESG score is not only good for the environment, but is good for business too. Share prices often increase as sustainability commitments are made and employee satisfaction and engagement increases too. To take specific examples, in January Microsoft announced it would put $1 billion toward decarbonising by 2030 and removing historical carbon by 2050. Meanwhile, 90 per cent of consultancy firm PWC’s carbon footprint is from travel and it too recognises it needs to address this.
All companies can begin to ‘Travel Smart’, though. In some cases that may even mean choosing not to travel at all, continuing to stay at home (or the office) and using video conference instead. Good for the bottom line and good for the environment.
But whether it is not travelling or less travelling, if the pandemic can act as a test case for new ways of working, then some good may have come of it. Employees are proving they can be trusted to work well from home and that in the future this will open up flexible working and will be added to more company policies.
We have the tech, we have smart people, we have the money when we need it. So why is finance not getting to the circular economy, the green projects and to improving our emissions reduction faster? We’ve now seen the benefits of cleaner ways.
In the European Parliament on Monday April 14 an appeal was proposed for a #GreenRecovery. The idea is that the bailouts and building the economy back up from recession should be a “Green Deal’, and conditions should be applied while finances are being shared out. We believe that we should take this opportunity to accelerate the work towards carbon neutrality by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement.
We set up flygreenalliance.org to support the mission to increase sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). A challenge is that even as greener fuel is adopted, a predicted doubling of aviation passenger traffic by 2036 to 7.8 billion passengers would swamp any improvement gained from SAF, so we needed to broaden our mission and encourage people to fly less. This doesn’t mean penalising flying, but it does mean balancing those increases in travel that will certainly happen with our global carbon footprints.
The result of this was FGAtravelsmart.com. We advocate for quality travel, which means paying to fly green and making a contribution to decarbonising the industry through meaningful offsets that support research into innovating the industry and which pay for SAF.
We have based this on our research and from listening to what companies want and are looking for in their aims to reduce their emissions and contribute to climate work globally. We are working on a best practice sustainable travel policy document, and you can register to receive a copy on our website. We welcome your comments and wish to open up some discussions so we can begin to rethink how we conduct work and travel for business, so we can all contribute to our green future.
We are #Strongertogether in everything. We have seen this from COVID-19, so let’s work for a #GreenRecovery.
‘After the crisis, the time will come to rebuild. This moment of recovery will be an opportunity to rethink our society and develop a new model of prosperity. This new model will have to answer to our needs and priorities.’ – GreenRecovery – Pascal Canfin
180 politicians, CEOs, Think Tanks , NGO and global leaders have signed the #GreenRecovery plan launched by politician Pascal Canfin in the European Parliament Monday 14th April.
As more write ups appear and more support for these sentiments come, we see there is increased lobbying for green recovery. Read more on Euractiv and Bloomberg, on our linkedin, watch commentary on youtube and read the full list of signatories here. They include: Ikea, Volvo, L’Oreal, Microsoft, Pepsico, Lego, Unilever, Danone, E.ON and many more.
These are words we absolutely agree with.
“Right now in this moment we have an opportunity to implement a revolutionary progressive reset in travel and business. Let’s take this chance and create a new model.” – FGA Travel Smart™ – read more.
We are working with policy makers and industry to get to this point. Join us in this systemic and policy rethink at a point where we can all make a difference and can contribute to societal change through an alliance.
FGA will be responding to the consultation that the European Commission opened March 24th and which closes 21st April.
We think this is an excellent opportunity and platform to share market experiences, discuss mechanisms and air industry views as a contribution toward the European Commission’s New Green Deal.
This is all the more relevant during a period where sustainable recovery of the aviation sector will be key to a successful future and green bailouts and change are being demanded.
What is being said in the media?
‘COVID-19 will change the world permanently, the rules we lived by won’t apply…new forms of reform’ – Politico
‘Reimagine capitalism’- Professor Rebecca Henderson, Harvard
‘We need more proactive thinking from airlines – they can’t imagine we will go back to the way they were before’ – Climate Policy Initiative
‘Airlines calling for public support in bad times should accept they need to start paying taxes in good times’ – Transport & Environment
So how do we move forward to a new deal for aviation? A few key points in our response:
Fast track access to grants or free grant writers to scale SAF research and consortium
Red II – recast to Red III – aviation as mandatory part of member state climate action plans for transport
Auctioning/tendering – we agree this will work in 5 years time, as per our discussion here citing Wind Europe’s example of successful tendering
It is essential to create financial structures which include agreed: airport, airline, technology, feedstock and corporate customers before defining targets across member states based on feasible volumes
Read our additional comments in Recharge News from earlier this year
We ask you to join us to make a joint statement or hope to encourage you to respond individually. Please contact us if you wish to discuss your thoughts further with FGA.