Sarah Wilkin and the FGA graduates join the The Climathon Geneva and work to design a greener future for travel

The Climathon is a worldwide call to action that allows citizens the opportunity to collaborate and find solutions to the most urgent climate issues. They must use their creativity to propose change and envision a greener, carbon zero future. 

Participants range from policy makers and business leaders to community activists and students from 145 cities across the world. In teams, they have 24 hours to tackle local climate challenges and come up with a meaningful story that outlines their vision for the future. The stories were then pitched to a jury of experts who decided a winner based on the most tangible and transformative idea and presentation.On the jury, from Geneva Airport, was Sabrina Cohen Dumani, Zaninka Mariane Ntagungira, Hamidul HUQ and Gaël Poget. And another jury made up of experts from Suisse Energie was Matthias Galus, Jakob Rager, Giorgio Pauletto and Pascal Mullener. 

FGA founder and CEO, Sarah Wilkin, was invited to speak at the Climathon Geneva about Fly Green Alliance’s work to bring sustainable aviation to the mainstream. Other expert speakers included Nicolas Nova, Claire Moretto, Jon Monnard and Gaël Pogat

Among these experts, and other innovators and creatives, Sarah assisted the teams in the development of their ideas. The online event was organised and overseen by Impact Hub Geneva and eqlosion. Nina Salamon from eqlosion describes some of the challenges of transitioning to entirely online: “It made us rethink and modify the way we present each phase of the work during the event”. She continues: “We also think it was interesting to think about making the event accessible to people who were not participating. We’re happy we did it online”. Nina and the organisers were on call throughout the process to empower the teams, as well as offering a yoga and bachata class to energise their spirits. 

Each team was given one of three briefs. The winning team, L’aRéogare were assigned with imagining the future of intercontinental human interactions by 2050. This challenge was proposed by Geneva Airport’s CEO, André Schneider and asks the teams to explore possible ways in which human interaction across continents may be implicated by the ecological transition. It is projected that the number of passengers travelling by air is likely to double by 2036 to 7.8 billion. If sustainable solutions and fuel are not applied, this will in turn increase carbon, already in excess globally. The Guardian wrote this month that 1% of frequent flyers create 50% of global emissions and the research group who carried out the work for the report estimated the cost of these emissions being valued at $100 billion. Based on these findings and other research carried out over the 24 hours period, the teams were asked to consider existing social and technological trends to offer tangible alternatives which kept in mind the quality of future social interactions and access to intercontinental travel. 

L’aRéogare approached these issues and presented their ideas by recording a podcast. They imagined that in 2030, Switzerland became the first to issue a ban on intercontinental flights and adopt a limited aviation carbon budget where people needed to save credits from their own personal carbon budgets to take a flight. The team created the podcast which was said to be broadcast in the year 2050, from Geneva Airport, interviewing travellers and users of the airport passing through. Through the interviews we learn that in the future people used low-fuel trains and have virtual business meetings as other alternatives to flying, when they have run out of credits or need to save them to take a longer flight. 

All of the teams now have the opportunity to submit their ideas to be considered for a Climathon Award. The Climathon Global Awards celebrates all those that participated across the Climathon process in all its 5 years, and offers a space for continued collaboration on a global stage. Prize money is offered to the most transformative solutions, to help in realising and taking their ideas through to fruition.

The Climathon is a truly inspiring event that generates real and spirited connection across borders in the name of climate action and innovation.

PWC: Climate Change & Sustainability Reporting Workshop

Today I attended a virtual workshop on climate change and reporting organised by PWC. This topic is close to us at FGA as sustainable travel is part of carbon neutral commitments and is starting to develop. We do this work through advocacy for sustainable travel policies, working with organisations on ESG commitments, as well as through building net zero or carbon neutral policies in to the business. You can read about our programme supporting this work here: FGA Travel Smart.

There were some clear take aways from the panel discussion which included sustainability and reporting leaders from bp, BT, GSK and Ben Yeoh from RBC Global Asset Management:

As well as much discussion around data, disclosure and collective response, there were some key pieces of work being carried out at supply chain level. GSK mentioning they have 30,000 suppliers and bp mentioning their supplier value is $28 billion, so it is no small task to begin to measure, monitor and reduce GHG emissions and progress work in sustainable contract agreements, but all companies mentioning work is on its way. Gabrielle Giner saying BT have made climate commitments since 2012 and Alice Revels said bp were actively searching for partners to support their 2050 carbon neutral commitments.

Ben Yeoh talked about shareholders asking the executive boards to be accountable on climate at the AGMs and asking what their Net Zero plans are. It was discussed by PWC and shown in the findings below that 76% of board members are engaged but the strategy and knowledge needs to be developed on climate matters.

PWC discussed that this next 10 years is crucial on environment, and that business happens in cycles of 10 years, so it really needs to be this cycle to get us on track with meeting climate goals.

It was an excellent agenda with some great insights and discussion points from the panel. This event and others strongly support our work on activation and moving of finance towards the low carbon industries to support the energy transition.

BT Game Changing Challenge and the 1.5 Supply Chain Initiative were a couple of the programmes mentioned which support the 1.5 degree Paris Agreement targets.

The one to watch for the future is understanding and planning for carbon pricing risk. Prices of carbon are predicted to rise in the comings years which is why prevention such as building in low carbon tech solutions is talked about being the most secure long term strategy for businesses and investors alike.

The recording and reports will be available soon from PWC so feel free to reach out to me on sarah@flygreenalliance.org to discuss this work in more detail.

The conclusion was: galvanise!

Sustainability news channel, Access ECO, interviews Sarah Wilkin – founder & CEO of FGA

The sustainability news channel Access Eco approached Sarah Wilkin to discuss how FGA evolved, their work in the industry and the outlook for sustainable travel and sustainable aviation fuel in the coming years.

You can watch the interview here on youtube which was aired at 17:15 CET today.

As Sarah transparently discusses in this interview it will be the support of the large corporations that will begin to shift the work in sustainable travel and sustainable aviation fuel use, then awareness building will ensure on a global level everyone starts to know about this work. This is why we have also started to build our instagram to begin to encourage the conversation from a consumer perspective.

As Bill Gates writes: ‘Addressing CO2 produced from travel is vital to ensure the sustainability of the planet, whilst still ensuring economic benefits associated with travel.’

We have written some words on market measures here to go alongside this interview which discusses some of our thinking and findings.

Sarah mentions also the power companies such as Google, who have been working on their sustainability commitments through initiatives such as their new Impact Challenge which closes this week on 6th November.

Extreme weather incident from climate and climate action is very serious to us at FGA and all of our efforts work towards accelerating this work while working with industry to do this. We make sure that policy makers, NGOs, airlines, fuel producers and all stakeholders know that we are here to connect dots, highlight potential blockages and work on true collaboration as diplomatically and constructively as is within our abilities. We are working very hard in the space to make an impact with our personal energy and approach.

Also shown on ROKU TV & Amazon FireTv.

What are the basket of measures for aviation decarbonisation?

This is the term that has been used to describe the solutions that are available to the hardest to decarbonise industry, aviation. 

They have been decided upon by the UN body ICAO and agreed by IATA, member states including and leading aviation associations globally.

EUROCONTROL created some key diagrams which show the measures and a graph of decarbonisation predictions for the next 30 years, giving context to the scale we need to achieve. 

EUROCONTROL – Think paper #4 – September 2019 
EUROCONTROL – Think paper #4 – September 2019 

Sustainable aviation fuels is our work and what we are working to increase production of and demand for. This can be synthetic fuels made from green hydrogen or biofuels. The discussion last week hosted by Euractiv and EBAA titled ‘Aviation’s contribution to a green and sustainable recovery’ , mentioned that e-fuels are touted as a favourite but our work with chemistry professors, who do not see these fuels being commercially viable in the short term, has taught us we should look to solutions that are available now for pure speed-to-market. 

There is much talk of don’t just back one horse in the industry. In this case it seems financially we should mainly back the horse that is proven to work, has been in testing for 10 years and doesn’t involve relying on others to make it, but we should also back the near-favourites and complete outsiders to keep them in the race and who look like promising future contenders.  

This year the ‘ICAO Stocktaking Seminar on aviation in-sector CO₂ emissions reductions’ event, presented online over 4 days, discussed recovery of aviation and how this is a period of opportunity for increased green activity. With the aviation industry enlisting government support in major bailouts and some sunk into bankruptcy it’s unlikely the airlines can invest in sustainable fuels at scale in the future so we need the investors on board and consumer power and dollar. Follow us on instagram to support the fly green movement (alliance).

In a presentation given at the ICAO stocktaking event Shell predicted hydrogen being available by 2070-2100 for aviation.  Airbus this year presented the hydrogen plane and has predicted it being ready from 2035. This would be a great solution. 

Martin Haigh, Senior Energy and Climate Change Adviser – Shell

Vacillation will always occur in such long term environmental and economic predictions involving assumptions and unpredictability, and now a pandemic. We consult with academics, applied scientists, technology producers and economists to forms our thinking.  Feel free to reach out to us for expert advice on the SAF investment market and global trends in the sustainable green travel sector. Contact sarah@flygreenalliance.org to discuss your needs.

Down to earth: Moonshot turns to earthshot

Back in July 1969 we finally made it to the moon. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The term used back then to make this happen was ‘moonshot’. Now today our mission turns to climate and as David Attenborough implores us to see, in his new Netflix documentary ‘A life on our planet’ at age 92, we are not saving the planet, we are saving ourselves. So moonshot turns to Earthshot. The Earthshot Prize is the name for the new initiative set up by Sir David Attenborough, Prince William, Kate and the Royal Foundation which will be awarding prizes for organisations contributing the most innovative solutions to solve our global environmental problems.

The Earth is at a tipping point and we face a stark choice: either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet, or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate and problem-solve. People can achieve great things. The next ten years present us with one of our greatest tests – a decade of action to repair the Earth

Prince William

Prince Charles also working with the World Economic Forum‘s Sustainable Market Council and Harry and Megan are working on Travalyst, a sustainable travel initiative.

Ayesha Andrade and I were recently part of the Transport & Environment sustainability seminar on 24th September where Joris Melkert, Senior Lecturer TU Delft presented: “Moonshot” aircraft programmes, analysing their impact and how to support them. What steps regulators can take to develop breakthrough aircrafts.

The moonshot is a great analogy. We’ve managed to do what would have been deemed the impossible to past generations by channelling budget and drive so the impossible became scientifically and financially achievable. So now it’s time to get back down to earth.

It was discussed that it was the sheer determination and commitment of Kennedy that made this particular mission succeed. It was also noted that there had been many failed attempts before the Apollo 11 crew finally made it to the moon on 20th July 1969. Joris discussed the drivers which are key to having a macro understanding of the factors involved in the energy transitions and very validly pointed out, the ‘don’t just back one horse’ approach. The major take away being that it takes leadership, commitment, drive, finance and a common goal. David Attenborough is calling for $500 billon per year in finance and HSBC have announced their work on green financing. Chief Executive Noel Quinn told Reuters HSBC will make ‘$750 billion and $1 trillion in financing to help clients make the transition’.

The T&E seminar also invited PCS Union to discuss employment and what needs to/may happen if the shift from employment in aviation was to occur on a more permanent basis, we heard about the science of biofuels and hydrogen fuels from Dr. Valentin Batteiger at Bauhaus Luftfahrt, Frederic Thomas presented some very interesting research on traveller behaviour. Gerard Rijk discussed the economics of what needs to happen to reach 2030 targets and the Paris Agreements. The day covered off some important topics, brought some new ideas and thinking to the table. We met Transport & Environment’s Sustainable Finance Director working to accelerate finances moving towards the sector and FGA was able to present our approach and work to the group.  

The message from all presenters at the T&E event, attendees, the royals, Sir David Attenborough, the IPCC report, Transport & Environment, European Commission, FGA and many more is that we need to get the finances moving towards low carbon initiatives and we need to do this quicker, within the next 10 years or we face fatal consequences.

To discuss your carbon neutral commitment further with us contact sarah@flygreenalliance.org to make a plan.

FGA

World Mental Health Day

FGA strongly supports mental health day and wellbeing. As a team we discuss our stresses and voice our concerns about work and for each other, empathy is key.

During the Climate Kic process we went through last year, we created our values and business model. Ondine, our trainer, brought in personal development and emotional wellbeing into the development of our startup. She mentioned we needed to align our business values to our personal values and that if we flourish our business will flourish. It was something we’d not seen in any startup support before and was a relief that it was recognised as part of setting up the business and wasn’t separate or standalone. Ondine also mentioned be prepared things won’t go right all the time, be ready for the bumps in the road. That recognition and advice was enough support to push us on, and this is also why FGA Travel Smart includes wellbeing as part of our policy work.

Brene Brown is a favourite of ours who is on Netflix and gives some very good powering up advice. I loved her advice of ‘get into the arena/show up and be willing to have your ass kicked! She also discussed the power of vulnerability which has 14 million views on youtube and globally known. Her no nonsense and funny approach works for me and it seems to many others too, as we globally still shy away from the ‘soft’ side of managing things, especially at work.

A friend has a business called Learn Adapt Build: ‘Through scientific research, change management, learning and personal development, we help radically improve performance, health & happiness at work – Measure what matters in your business.’

My friend talks of neurodiversity a lot which is recognising that people need different environments and open plan offices can be tricky for some to concentrate in and to flourish at work. Things have changed now we’re at home so we’ll see how things develop but this made a lot of sense to me. It explained why I always needed to escape to concentrate and why working from home, now for 2 years, works for me and the team. I also read in the Wired 2020 predictions that work places were recognising more the skills of autistic employees and were creating inclusive policies: ‘Autistic people have been overlooked too often because employers can’t see past social skills. That is a big mistake’.

Another friend also has an excellent creative approach to talking about her agoraphobia and anxiety through instagram which is called, The agorophobic Traveller.

My sister is a HR manager and her company are excellent at creating mental health initiatives, some are on my linkedin here. They at first created ‘Mental Health Champions’ but the name itself put people off and many didn’t join any sessions so they changed the name to ‘Wellbeing Partners’ and put events on without the label, as a place to discuss stresses, share experiences or just anything and it’s working really well. They meet monthly to work on planning their next events. One workshop coming up is a breathing workshop. We all need to take a few deep breaths right now! We also supported Mental Health Week back in May here and I posted my garden online as one of my staying sane tactics.

Last night I listen to a podcast, ‘Off Menu‘ , which interviewed Ovie Soko, the basketball player. He has written a book called ‘You are dope’ which is out this month. He said it’s kind of a self help book, again without the self-help label. Not one I have read but the The Subtle art of not giving a fuck, also similar stuff with a bit of an edge.

In a business world, I am happy to be open about the fact that things haven’t been easy, the pandemic sent another surge of stress and anxiety through me and the team but with epsom salt baths, yoga, music and positive future-focused work we are getting through it.

We hope you have a happy World Mental Health Day!

FGA

FGA attending Transport & Environment’s sustainability seminar

FGA, Sarah Wilkin and Ayesha Andrade, participated in Transport & Environment (T&E)‘s ‘Aviation post-Covid: a reset for resilience?’ event on 24th September.


T&E assembled a very knowledgeable and broad-spanning group of experts to present their research related to the aviation sector and to share some insights on potential impacts of COVID.


The research-based data and observations in the presentations were extremely thought-provoking. We appreciated the time and effort put into the event and the robust discussions we had during the day.

We looking forward to future discussions that may come from this group and all other stakeholders that are looking to decarbonise the aviation industry.

A special thanks to the presenters: Gerard RijkFrederic Thomas, PCS Union, Bauhaus Luftfahrt, Joris Melkert, Marc Stettler and Inga Margrete Ydersbond.

FGA watches: Zac Efron – Down to Earth

We watched this back in Summer.

Actor Zac Efron journeys around the world with his friend, and wellness expert, Darin Olien in a travel show that explores healthy, sustainable ways to live.

It’s got some nice examples of different sustainability initiatives and some very real examples of extreme weather conditions from climate change affecting people’s lives.

Watch it on Netflix.

FGA joins EBAA’s sustainability working group

Fly Green Alliance has been invited to be part of a group of aviation and sustainability experts looking to work towards guiding the business aviation sector in reducing their emissions and becoming more sustainable. The work is managed through a work stream called Expanding Horizons and sponsored by EBAA. Our first meeting was held on 23rd September and will be ongoing.

You can see the list of participants on the EBAA website.

The programme S.T.A.R.S. looks to create sustainability standards which cover topics from CORSIA, sustainable aviation fuels to plastics on board. As Bruce Parry, Senior Environment Manager at EBAA, mentioned in our first session, ‘there are no wrong answers, right now’, leaving the scope of the work open to development by the group.

EBAA Secretary-General Athar Husain Khan:

“The road to recovery from COVID-19 can and should happen in a sustainable way across all industries,” 

“For Business aviation, S.T.A.R.S. aims to provide the guidance and resources to do so. We anticipate having the standards and the accompanying label ready to launch in early 2021.”

FGA look forward to contributing to the decarbonisation of the business aviation sector through discussions and standards development in the coming months.

FGA