FGA at The Economist – Sustainability Week

At the East London location of the Barbican, on Tuesday 22nd March, was the in-person day of the 7th Annual Sustainability Week of The Economist, focusing on green investment and scaling technology for the energy transition, moving away from fossils fuels.

The panels of the day consisting of assets managers, carbon reporting companies, economists, academics, commentators, and technical experts in infrastructure and green tech.

Alok Sharma addressed the room with an opening keynote summarising some of the achievements of COP26 which included 60% of the FTSE announcing net zero pre-November event in Glasgow. Also sharing that 90% of the global economy has signed up to net zero and 40% of all global assets owners have made the pledge.

Swampy, the original climate activist in the UK from the 90s, made a cameo appearance in Alok Sharma’s speech which was a reminder that the work on climate has been happening for a long time and highlighting further the need to accelerate the transition. Also significant that there are many activists like Swampy now, and mostly wearing suits, so we have come a long way since 1996.

Alok discussed the themes of 2022 being ‘doing’ and ‘how’.

So what is it we need to do?

Switch from a fossil based energy system to green electricity and hydrogen as discussed in ‘What we need to do now’ by Chris Goodall. A very practical and positive book on how to achieve an energy system shift globally to limit global temperature rise.


Estimates of funds required to switch energy systems were coming in at $2.5-5 trillion per year up to 2050. Greening brown industries and transition plans were part of the how and discussion on not stranding brown assets which would mean that they were not gone but being passed to those willing to still invest in fossil.

Utilities and infrastructure have historically been government led as towns and council have developed over the years often becoming privatised to improve running efficiencies and to become profitable businesses. This is why that a big part of the debate included use of strategic Public/Private Partnerships (PPPs) to give green first-of-it-kind tech, unstable tech or low return on investment tech and solutions an opportunity to show return. Hurdling investment was a topic which supported low return projects to demonstrate stability and profit over time. Although asset managers do not want to take on such risk with their pension funds, sovereign wealth and private client’s money, the bottom line.

However the question was still asked, which ones are the right ones to back? Which will be the green cash cows? Can they take the burden of the question marks or dog/laggards? And over how long in order to get to a point of profitability? The BCG matrix concept comes into play when working out what the portfolio energy mix will be.

There was a lot of discussion around hydrogen being a safe bet for asset managers which we do need more of but without green electricity it will only be able to serve some industries and definitely not aviation until 2035 as discussed by the Jet Zero Council in this recent update published 21st March. 200-300 seater hydrogen planes won’t be online until 2035. However e-fuels using green hydrogen and carbon should be in play before then. For aviation bio SAFs still do need to be in place and due to planes being in service for 25 years and being deployed now the market for SAF will be around for many decades to come. There are currently no hydrogen planes being submitted for certification and with us never having flown hydrogen societally before it is likely to take 5+ year for safety checks for these new planes. It is necessary to contextualise, look to the comparisons, the long term rollout plans, certification and public acceptance when it comes to investing in new tech and especially as new energy sources that are needing new infrastructure and behavioural changes like hydrogen needs.

Companies such as bp said:

By 2025 – 25% of portfolio will be transition

By 2030 – 50% transition projects and 40% less oil & gas in the portfolio

Various approaches were discussed when it came to understanding and choosing ‘green investments’

One commentator mentioned as well as Risk & Return, the next check is climate.

On an ESG approach – bottom line, does it harm the planet?

Topics at the table:

*Transition plans, should they be mandatory?
* ‘50 shades of green’ in investment terms
* Greening the brown economy
* Low cost capital for transition green projects
* The definition of transition
* Greening aviation ♻️✈️
* How to not strand brown assets
* ESG criteria for investments
* Reporting and supply chain
* Investment in Hydrogen

A few thoughts from our side were:
* Finance for green electricity, is it a given that it will be invested in? Although mentioned it was not emphasised that we do need a lot more for green hydrogen too (e.g.25 x times more in the UK in the next 2 decades)
* if investors/governments need to run at low or no ROI for new tech, how long can they manage this/hurdle this for? – 5 years? More?
* less discussed was customer /consumer readiness levels for paying for green

*although climate optimism was discussed, mitigation and water management was less discussed which we will likely need to do in conjunction with reducing carbon in general

At the event there was no plastic on badges or any single use, very nice vegetarian food, reusable plates, cups, cutlery and no paper flyers or schedules. ♻️✅

The work FGA have been doing, which has been recognised by institutes such as Imperial College London and our clients, is how we apply the energy transition work to businesses travel and sports. We are also working to find the finance for sustainable aviation fuel and low carbon projects which is ongoing work for us.

To start to conversation about green investments or how to switch-to-green in your business contact: sarah@flygreenalliance.org

Diversity and Inclusion in Aviation

Yesterday we attended an event by Avi – ALL – Aviation for All on the topic of D&I. As an industry that has around 20% of women there is still a way to go on balance and diversity.

It was an interesting event which discussed culture, mentoring, biases, language used, education of younger people, #girlsinSTEM and inclusion not just diversity.

The speakers were asked how to ensure it really does become part of the culture and some answers were:

  • Role models
  • Ensure women are on the board
  • Senior management buy-in
  • Ensuring mentors gain training
  • Ensure psychological safety
  • Have gender balanced panels like this one
  • CEOs and board members gaining training to ensure they are not defaulting to biases in language, behaviours and decision making

We believe that it’s also about developing confidence in those that are in the minority whether they are women, neurodiverse, LGBTI+ or those from ethnic backgrounds or countries that are less represented. To truly ensure this, providing free access to professional coaching would be a helpful approach to building self confidence, resilience in the workplace and to improve communication skills, including role play or third-person perspective scenerios. Equity is also important as it’s about being listened to and feeling that you can contribute as an individual. We wrote about our thoughts on equity last year and believe integrating more of this into HR policies would help integrate DEI fully.

A conversation also started about getting young people involved in STEM. We were part of Boeing’s event over summer with ThinkYoung at Summer of Coding discussing tech and sustainability. As we believe it is encouraging and building confidence in kids at a young age that can help change mindsets. Just as girls now play football from a young age they are also starting to code, get involved with tech and skateboard and more with the help of campaigns and initiatives.

We definitely ensure it’s part of our remit as we have a #femaleCEO and set up FGA to bring more diversity to the sector. We have seen changes already and are happy to be part of this work. #DEI #FGA

What is Book & Claim?

Book & Claim is an approach to the buying and selling of fuel much like how green electricity is sold and bought. When you purchase green electricity you know it has been added to the grid, the national electricity supply, from renewable sources but the supply may not be in your own house. With green electricity you buy an amount, a subscription or credits. Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) can be purchased in the same way and then added to the global supply of jet fuel. SAF must be blended, re-tested for stability and can then mix with standard jet fuel.

The global mechanisms and companies starting to use book and claim are currently under development and the European Commission are reviewing if this should be regulated.

The European Commission consultations such as ‘Count your transport emissions‘ is looking into what this system should look like.

What are the benefits of Book & Claim?

  • It saves carbon due to reduced emissions from transportation of the fuel
  • Supply management – as the fuel can stay in the country it is produced in and uplifted there, while still acting as an offset in another it means transport timings, logistics arrangements and location of the fuel is less of a risk as supply chains are shorter
  • Shipping fuel can run into high delays and so Book & Claim mitigates for this
  • Any airport close to the fuel can therefore uplift the fuel
  • Reduces the cost of transport (via ship or road) and therefore the cost of SAF, as it can be up to 3 times as expensive then any cost saving is needed right now to make is closer to the cost of kerosene (Jet-A1)
  • The credit or agreement can offset emmissions from travel and does not need to be tied to one airline

For more information on SAF or Book & Claim contact sarah@flygreenalliance.org

What is electric regional air mobility?

This week FGA joined a group of aviation experts in Malta at MACE to discuss region air mobility (RAM) and the business case for electrification of RAM.

Having already met Stein Nilsen, CEO of the Norwegian airline Widerø, this year to discuss their electric strategy, it is clear that electrification is on its way. It has been touted to be commercially ready by 2026 on initially short commuter routes with 9-seater planes. This form of regional air mobility will work well for countries like Norway who have an excess of green electricity from their hydropower and beginning to install charging points in airports such as Stavanger.

The Stavanger to Bergen route being discussed as one of the first to fly electric. You can read about this new electric project online at www.elflyportalen.no. Just a 40 mins journey between the 2 cities by air. 

The landscape and infrastructure of Norway means it’s often much quicker to fly. The Stavanger to Bergen route taking 4-5 hours by car and in winter sometimes even longer due to heavy snow and with the need to clear the roads regularly.

The points brought up with regards to increased use of rail is the huge infrastructure investment required globally. With electrified regional air mobility this is not an issue but, of course, does require new planes to be purchased or leased by the operators and part of a low carbon diversification plan. Some of the investment required would sit with the airports due to needing to fit chargers and then subsequently being responsible for supplying green electricity to operators.

Definitely work needed to be done in conjunction with national governments as part of energy transition roll out plans, as not all countries have an excess of green electricity and this development would need to be concurrent to electrification, and likely requiring incentives or favourable loans rates or investment packages to carry out the deployment of the charging hardware.

On the panel in Malta we also heard about the case of Sweden who are investing in green electricity production to also cater for future green electricity demand and certainly from aviation. Fredrick Kampfe and Hendrik Littorin discussing Northvolt and the need for behavioural change. 

We were also pleased to speak to the External Environmental Specialist at Avinor recently. Avinor, who manage 41 airports in Norway, also discussed in the webinar session ‘Stakeholder Forum on the impact of climate change on aviation‘ already needing to mitigate for extreme weather so have environment firmly in their strategic development.

The attendees from the business aviation sector event being especially interested and happy to adopt electric due to the initial plane sizes being commercialised being much more suited to business aviation rather than general or commercial aviation.

The IBAC and Bombardier roadmap which EBBA work towards discussing that 40% of decarbonisation of business aviation by 2050 will be coming from electrification and alternative technologies. 

Also it’s good to see clearly what the carbon comparisons are between transports modes to see where competitive advantage lies.

Kevin Antcliff, previously at NASA, having created a white paper outlining the business case and factors that need to be considered and worked out before the case can work commercially. All was discussed in the session at MACE.

Herve Laitat discussing the business case is still missing and FGA saying we are working on this, as well as societal acceptance, which we will work on with Imperial College London through the various alliances created. 

It was a very interesting panel discussion and conference. Filippo Arcaleni, lawyer from DF Advocates having put the panel together, looking to the future and building conversation and opportunity for the sector. Discussing the importance of having a balanced and solid legal framework as well as the financial benefits to smaller regional airports. Airports that are unlikely to receive sustainable aviation fuel in the future due to small amounts of traffic but who can install charging points.

FGA were pleased to be invited to share our knowledge on the electric way to fly green in the future and in order to start the building-block conversations which connect dots in the industry.

FGA are available for introductory workshops. From initial foundational work we then develop plans and ideas for your business from finance packages to roadmaps. 

Are you in Aviation? Business Travel? Mobility? Get in touch with sarah@flygreenalliance.org to start to build your business’s sustainable future. 

The SAF status

As we head for COP26 where delegates are flying on green fuel, have had The Business Show live in person, discussed the SAF journey as part of a masterclass with easyJet’s Sustainability Director and Salesforce’s Travel Manager we do see some themes are emerging and would like to sum up some of the points. We discussed that business travel is likely to go down. This may in turn leave an option for the savings from the reduction in travel to be used for sustainable travel and fuels as part of a new business model and new framing. We do need to find those willing to pay a premium for the fuel until some more low cost fuels come on line, we are told by 2024 in Europe, but in this interim period, what are the plans?

There are multiple mechanisms being developed which unfortunately are not ready for COP26, as it very new work, but there are around a list of 10+ on their way. They range from one from the World Economic Forum, Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance to our Gold Standard methodology. These all are based around similar thinking and all measure carbon per tonnes and provide a credit and accreditation to demonstrate that the fuel being supplied is complying with sustainable principles accepted by the airlines globally.

The fuel already has to go through rigorous testing (ASTM) to be allowed in planes which is good to know. There are currently 8 pathways for making the biofuel that are approved.

Some fuel facts:

  • reduces emissions by 80% on the life cycle
  • made from municipal solid waste, residues, used cooking oil, energy crops
  • avoids further digging of fossil fuels so recycles materials that already exist or are going to waste
  • 3 times expensive as Jet-A/kerosene
  • all major oils companies are now making/selling SAF but they need more demand to make more supply and reduce prices
  • policy exists but is developing. Mandates etc will support overall production and uptake
  • acting now by building a business case to find budget to pay for the fuel will help, making your organisation part of developing the uptake and development of sustainable fuel and travel solutions
  • more digitalisation and platforms are on the way and more are developing all the time
  • FGA is one of the first alliances developed to concentrate solely on the development of sustainable aviation fuel and travel and as as peers say it doesn’t matter how big you or your organisation is you can all be part of making a difference – watch here
  • We’re proud to say that Fly Green Alliance has been invited by Imperial College London to lead on ‘societal acceptance’ of sustainable fuels due to our modern and different approach to developing the industry

If you think it’s interesting and it’s time for you or your company to be active in a sustainability role then get in touch with FGA who can connect you with your governments, local authorities, policy makers, fuel and travel partners to take a role in the energy transition.

Send an email to sarah@flygreenalliance.org to discuss your wants further.

How do we ‘market’ climate action?

When a company wants to sell a product market research is conducted to understand consumer behaviours and attitudes. Then marketeers or advertising agencies create a strategy and communication campaign that will suit the segment of consumers targeted, which often resonates with them on different levels. Generally the product has to fit society’s needs at the time. But on the whole there is a product to sell.

Why has the climate change ‘campaign’ not been working? 

As we have thought about this we concluded that the messaging around climate action told people the outcome of the what they’d get which is “saving the planet”, if they stopped doing certain things but not what they were buying or getting or what the transaction was. It’s not tangible to most people so in marketing terms you are selling a vision without a product.

And there previously was minimal marketing budget to ‘sell’ climate change.

What is the climate action ‘product’ we can sell?

Through developing our work we came to realise we are working on the energy transition, and working on switching global use of energy to green and clean options. Our product is energy and circular solutions. As you can see from this pie chart we need to switch a huge amount of energy across our living, travelling and eating habits.

We posted the above chart recently which got many likes on social and was posted by the International Energy Agency. Clarity in communication is key to knowing what we need to do to solve climate change, as companies and as individuals.

Even 3-4 years ago there wasn’t much ‘budget’ for climate communication. More recently we’ve seen that companies are promoting sustainable products, so it means awareness has been raised, and so has the marketing budget and then in turn the amount of customers buying the green products.

Greta used marketing to communicate her message. She used personal protest and then social media and it has been heard and seen. Greta has a mission rather than a product and has become a green influencer. As she turns her mission into a call-to-action which requires consumers to make a transaction then she will see a return on investment, her time. The return being a change in consumer behaviour i.e. switch to green energy and a reduction of carbon use per person.

FGA are a combination of advertising, digital and sustainability professionals working with our clients on reporting of carbon, energy planning, communications and innovation to ensure companies are delivering the right messaging and fit-for-market, sustainable products so we can live well and become more sustainable consumers (/people!).

But as Ford said “if you had asked our customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse“. Creativity, understanding our consumer’s needs and the leaps we can make is key. We are working with early adopters and innovators in sport and business travel .If you would like to discuss your strategy, planning and product innovation with our team then get in touch with sarah@flygreenalliance.org

FGA joins Sport and Sustainability International to work on green travel in sport

We are happy to join Sport and Sustainability International who are made up of a group of sport experts across the industry. On the Executive Board is Julia Palle, Sustainability Director, Formula E, Philippe Duperrex, former Senior Corporate Governance & Compliance Officer at UEFA and Vincent Gaillard, CEO of European Professional Club Rugby.

As travel can be up to 80-90% of total emissions in sport we will be working on sustainable solutions, partnerships and reduction projects.

As Julia Palle – Formula E mentions “#Travel is the biggest footprint contributor to #sports events hence why SandSI—Sport and Sustainability International is delighted to announce a new #partnership with Fly Green Alliance (FGA) to #support our #members and share best practices to take action and #advance#sustainability in and through sports!”

We’ve also joined the Sustainability.sport platform as experts in green travel in the sport sector.

In addition we have developed the first Green Travel Alliance in Sport (GTAS) and look forward to building it further with SandSi and our new partners. More to come soon.

How do we support women to work and be mothers?

“Gender equality in the workplace is key to unlocking significant business growth, and driving positive social and environmental impacts, according to Better Leadership, Better World: Women Leading for the Global Goals

World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

It has been recognised by Harvard Business Review that increasing senior women in the workforce supports innovation and sustainability. In another Harvard Business School article it suggests, if you can’t find a spouse that supports your career, stay single!

It sounds a bit drastic although in reality many busy and ambitious people do this all the time. Men and women. The only thing is what if you do want children? Men rarely can have children without a partner and how do women fit becoming a mum in to life if they are busy or just can’t take 6 months out of work to parent? Men can wait longer but what can women do? And what can workplace policy do to support here?

We think it’s an under discussed topic and in the long run greater knowledge and adoption of more evolved policies can support increasing women in leadership, and help businesses to thrive as more women are able to stay in senior positions.

Here a few examples of leading ladies, some famous ones, that chose the non-traditional route to work and motherhood or to be child free:

  • My neuroscientist friend’s husband is a stay at home Dad/business owner while she works full time outside of the home. One option. She did however have to unfortunately go back to work after only 12 weeks after the birth of her son. US based.
  • A senior Legal Counsel lady in aviation said she needed a nanny, nursery and the support of her husband who had his own business and even moved jobs and country to gain a more favourable maternity package. Another option.

  • Another friend – she looks after her kids one day per week, her husband looks after their kids one day per week and they pay for 3 days childcare, both share the weekend
  • A solo parent friend of mine had the help of her retired mother and nursery and went back to her senior role within 4 months
  • A recent read showed Kim Cattrall at 41 decided not to have children to concentrate on her career and busy filming schedule although she was in a relationship. The term child free is now being used rather than childless.
  • Egg freezing is discussed in this Kathy Burke (UK comedian) documentary All women and has been said to reduce ticking-clock anxiety or hasty mis-partnering. The age bracket for being eligible for egg freezing and IVF can be up to 40/41 in some countries and they can be stored for 10 years. Could workplaces offer loans or support for this option?
  • Italian Vogue’s Chief Editor discusses her choice to not live with the father of her child in this documentary about her work and life. A tough decision she said.
  • Fearne McCann created a show called First Time Mother and talks of solo parenting and providing for her little girl through her own earnings
  • Mum-spiration: a partner of ours is working, taking calls and presenting while being with her new born baby and even feeding off camera. It’s very admirable and possible now with video calling as not everything needs to be in person
  • Naomi Campbell choose to be a mother at age 50 but if you are over 35 you are discussed as disadvantaged.
  • Many examples of women solo parenting with donors are being discussed in friendship circles and online now and it is becoming much more well known. A community/neighbour/family based childcare system or all of these options can help solo parenting be possible. Again some workplaces offer creche or childcare support.
  • Female gay couples can choose a donor and male gay couples have been known to ask a surrogate or adopt which is happening in the UK, America, Norway and other countries globally.
  • Others choosing work from home roles to manage childcare, working around their children being awake and school pick up, which will be a lot more possible now it’s more common place to have a work from home or hybrid policy

There are many new family structures now and many ways to parent.

Of course whether you have money for child care and a good support network is very important and key to women being able to stay in senior positions and have a family.

Companies such as Bumble, who’s CEO, Whitney Wolfe Herd, made new HR policies in 2021. Bumble saying they ‘give all of their employees a minimum of six months’ paid leave for the birth, adoption or surrogacy of a child… Victims of domestic violence or other violent crimes will also be able to take at least 20 days of paid leave. Following a miscarriage, employees will be allowed a minimum of 15 days’ paid compassionate leave‘. It is great leadership and will hopefully be replicated by other companies in the following years. Countries like Sweden being a leader on giving equal maternity and paternity leave by law.

Others like bp and Amex are also follow suits now with new policies.

It is not a simple topic. The work/life balance of a parent has always been a point for discussion but as diversity, equity, inclusion and equal pay topics evolve, then so does how we parent and especially for working women.

Does your company support parenting proactively? Do you feel able to keep your role and even progress while having time off for parental leave? At FGA we support our colleagues, freelancers and partners that are parents to maintain flexible, remote working schedules while looking after their kids. And we support those not returning to work to keep intellectually active while being at home with their children. Contact us if you would like to discuss our work further and watch Cinderella 2021.

Eviation – when can we fly electric?

We had a very interesting discussion today with Avinor, who have 44 airports in Norway due to the landscape and geography of the country.

We discussed electric planes or eviation which Norway are likely to be the first to put into service by 2030 say this Business Traveller article discussing Rolls-Royce‘s work in this area.

Norway produces more green electric than they need as a country through hydro power so are likely to be early adopters.

Charging a 50 seater is the equivalent of charing 10 Tesla‘s or as much as the airport uses per year in one charge. A big jump in power needed. The estimate of power consumption for one trip between Stavanger and Bergen is 800 kWh. When the plane is charging it is estimated that between 1500-2500 kW is needed in effect.We’ll need to leap frog the innovation in battery capacity and speed up the production of green electricity through solar, wind and hydro if available. These developments all dependent on policy, incentives, lobbying, sustainable investments and consumer demand.

This does mean SAF will be required as it sits in the suite of measures to decarbonise aviation, and as planes have a 30-40 year lifespan then it’s more unsustainable to take these out of service so wastes, residues and energy crops are definitely on the cards to create sustainable fuel for air travel.

FGA will be part of a masterclass on SAF at the Business Travel Show alongside easyJet and Salesforce on 1st October, in person, at the ExCel in London. We look forward to discussing industry development here.