Premiership clubs and short haul flights

Today BBC Sport gave a rounded approach to the ongoing discussion about premiership clubs taking short haul flight domestically for games.

A recent poll showed as sustainability consultants we should encourage change, work to avoid green washing but also avoid greenhushing:

We need to work on the biggest impact work which as we can see from this infographic is cars and mostly single driver journeys.

What we can see from the recent Liverpool FC report is that fan travel is the biggest emitter.

It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be encouraging train over plane for domestic journeys as we discussed in the Nottingham Forest BBC article where we mentioned ‘there is never a need to take a short haul flight domestically in a small country’ but it does mean we should think about priorities. There is systems work going on in travel to reduce carbon which is needed for the economy, but it needs to speed up, so right now the fastest approach to carbon reduction is through citizen change. Citizens can have a 27% effect on reducing carbon up to 2030 so football is in a great position to steer this change.

When a group of midlands based premiership clubs joined FGA Sports, Birmingham County FA and Life TACKLE for a sustainability workshop Feb 2022 it was assumed kits and plastic were the biggest issue to tackle but we soon realised that travel was the one to look at first. Whether you are in a grassroots team or a pro club you can decide how you get to the match. If you are a high net worth individual like a top league player then you can choose what car you buy, you could buy an electric car, (even a sports cars) like Micha Richards and encourage fans to walk, cycle, take the train, bus or share cars to the match. It is probably is going to have a bigger influence on carbon reduction then many may think. Visibly showing willingness as a team to take the train (and not laughing at the idea) will of course be viewed well. Manchester United have 1.1 billon fans across their channels, Arsenal around 114 million. That is a lot of people watching their daily movements but it also means top clubs and players are in a position to show us the green way.

Fan power is huge as we saw from the ending of the European Super League. UK fans essentially put down the idea and it quickly came to a close. Watch the documentary ‘Kicking off: the rise and the fall of the super league’ here on iplayer. We can make green change through football…

So should we give the clubs and leagues the information they need to start to become green influencers? Yes. Education and knowledge sharing is our approach at FGA Sports. And as a start we advise clubs to create a good strategy and put a plan in place to work on their own footprint too, so they know their house (club/FA) is in order.

As player Morten Thorsby and We Play Green founders says “we are all people, citizens, we’re all in the same boat”. He choose to use his position as player to influence fellow players to take a stance.

And as we heard in one recent BBC podcast, the host discussed us all being hypocrites in some way but the sooner we do something rather than nothing the closer we’ll be to reducing carbon.

If you have need to reduce carbon, investigate fan travel, crunch some data, look at activation initiatives or need some technical advisory get in touch with or to discuss further.

Read some of our thoughts and trends on sports and sustainability in FGA Trends 2023 and listen to them on the Race for the Future podcast.

FGA Sports supporting the green kick off.

Do you know your carbon footprint?

As discussed in a recent BBC podcast, we (British/Europeans and other high carbon users) are all hypocrites in some form. And we are likely to stay that way until we have low cost clean energy, low cost non-meat food to eat, fossil free vehicles and low carbon holidays to warmer places.

Eating, staying warm, moving, travelling and entertaining ourselves is what makes up life. Industry is bringing new ways of living, having friends and new gadgets to us, and then on other hand we are being asked us to cut these out and to cut carbon. Does that sound like we are being asked to give up everything that is normal, safe and fun? That is for us all to think about.

I recently took carbon literacy training which asks you to know your footprint. I must admit I’d taken the test before but didn’t keep retaking it as the figures can tell you that you are ‘bad’.

I decided to take my carbon footprint from the last few years to compare them all. One at my height of excess/carbon burning – and this may be underestimated. I also took one at my lowest. I generally think I have managed to halve my footprint but as I’ve taken a long haul flight to visit friends in another continent this year, my first since 2018, and I live away from family, my footprint is above average again.

Up to 90% of the population have never flown so the average carbon per person is 6.5 tonnes although to stay within safe carbon levels we are said to need to stay around 2.3 tonnes per person per year. I’m definitely not there yet as most aren’t. But everyone’s better than nothing collectively turns into something.

We are said to emit at least double the amount we should for planetary safety and safe health levels, and the US emits 15 times more than we need to.

As the stats says 1% of the population creates 50% of global emissions which is a shocking realisation. We know it’s not a fair game and levelling is difficult and complex because many have got used to certain standards, but if we cause it, should we just cough up and pay the price, at least as a start?

For example in Colombia 25% of the population have cars, in the UK 85% have 1 – 3. Most families get around by bus in Colombia and planes are priced so high it really is just for the rich.

Here are some examples of my footprint but of course the calculator doesn’t take everything into account.

(It doesn’t take into account any work you might have done outside of your own life to work on global reduction or the spreading of news/ education or if you work in science or clean tech. But for these purposes that is not the point, it is about taking responsibility for yourself first and then others – put your face mask on before you help others)

My footprint in 2018 and years previous to this was at least:

2019-2022 I was less than average being mostly in NL, UK and Belgium by train or bus, and we were mostly not travelling far during the pandemic years:

2023 estimate so far:

If you have gone from lots of travel, maybe finally having the money to do this, opportunities with work, family abroad or a long distance relationship etc then your footprint will be above average.

So how do you begin to be ok with that? To take on the responsibility but not the shame.

It’s about overall reduction up to 2030, this doesn’t happen over night and although research shows 27% of reduction can be from citizens it shows 63% is from governments and industry changing systems, so yes, we do need reduce carbon ourselves and we shouldn’t sit back and do nothing, but it is also about the bigger picture. Can you influence your circle, your workplace or are you even a in position to influence your whole company, a government, a country or the WORLD?

There is a lot of ‘Eat the rich‘ popular culture right now with documentaries and shows coming up like ‘Glass onion‘ and others. The ‘eat the rich’ phrase originally coined by philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who was part of the progress of the Age of Enlightenment throughout Europe and the French Revolution. Maybe our green revolution is going to follow some of his teachings.

Did you know the recommendation for 2030 is?

It is surprisingly low. So is the answer the train? We created to think about things. Everyone will have their own approach as a citizen, what is yours?

You can start by calculating your carbon here, even if it’s not what you want to see.

Do you want to speak to us about how to carry out education, strategy or systems change in your organisation then get in touch with FGA by contacting:

This article is written by our founder.

EU grant writers

FGA will be developing various consortium to advance lower carbon fuels, green chemistry and opportunities for mobility at research level. All essential components of the energy transition.

We have several grants we will be applying for on the horizon.

If you work within green chemistry, biofuels, mobility, aviation, business travel, sport, communications or grant writing and you are interested in being part of a consortium please get in touch.

Must have an EU entity.

Contact to discuss further.

Gender balance in aviation

Sarah Wilkin, founder and CEO of Fly Green Alliance (FGA), was a recent guest at the Sustainability Aerospace & Defence Pioneers podcast by the legal firm, Bird&Bird, where she talked about her underlying motivations for setting up FGA. Amongst these was the life long desire to set up her own business, to gain seniority and a career after being freelance for many years, and on an aspirational level to be able work from anywhere in the world. However, an additional main motivation was to improve the gender balance in leadership roles in aviation and tech:

Even in 2021, the airline CEO line-up didn’t include women, so I just saw that in aviation we did need to accelerate all of the gender balance work. It became an important reason that I set up FGA, just to have a different perspective, maybe a bit more female leadership, and to bring a different way…..and open up the industry to more diversity.”

It was line-ups like this one and comments like “What are you doing here in this room full of men in grey suits?” by one male British Airways’ Senior Manager at an aviation conference, that made FGA founder & CEO realise why sustainable aviation fuel and surrounding work landed in her life: “Aviation was an industry that didn’t have many female leads and it personally was a time in my life that so many driving factors came together and I had to go for it on many levels.” It brought her love of travel and the importance of sustainability together but as she could see it was also gender balance and diversity that was missing from the industry too and it needed to be modernised. As one of FGA’s wise friends said: a workplace should reflect society.

After having worked in a different industry previously I was surprised that an industry that revolves around innovation and tech was still male heavy in 2019/2020. I realised that needed to change. So we began asking questions, reminding people to not assume a CEO or scientist was male and showing up on LinkedIn and at events.”

After years of being a bit stilted in her own career due to some personal set backs, Sarah who had mostly been managed by male leads in her life thought this was her opportunity to break the mould and support an industry that might need to work a bit harder on this topic. As a boutique independent consultancy, FGA decided to do things a bit differently through the imagery and language used in communications and through its team management.  In 2020, FGA set up their personal development pages and started to work on building confidence for new comers and removing barriers to female leadership. By 2020, Sarah was promoted on paper by her colleague in a proposal they created, to CEO, and after consideration decided it was an important milestone for the progress of FGA and important for the industry to have more female CEOs and decision makers, and so took on the new role.

On International Women’s Day 2021, FGA posted all the women working at FGA and our researcher’s new baby because having children present is the reality for women at work.

Since then, we have continued to write and research on a variety of subjects including how to support women to work and be mothers and how to improve diversity, equity and inclusion both in the aviation industry and in the workplace. Personal and professional development form part of FGA’s core values, we therefore actively encourage flexible working for parents and shared-parenting in order to help women stay in work and stay senior after having children. This is because women who take career-breaks often do so in part due to a lack of flexible working opportunities, and face greater obstacles when returning to the labour market, often ending up working in positions beneath their potential and skillset. As part of FGA’s commitment to supporting mental health and wellbeing, FGA is working on a compassion-based approach to personal development goals. These personal values align with FGA’s business values because staff with higher emotional wellness are more resilient and able to handle change and crisis better, both in work and in life.

Mentorship is equally an important part of FGA which Sarah has integrated into the FGA work culture. As an intern in 2020, Sarah’s mentorship and my time with FGA has been invaluable in setting me up for my next steps professionally. Caroline Climie, who studied a Master’s degree in 2022 in International Climate Law (LLM) and carried out her Master’s thesis project with FGA, described her experience so far:

I collaborated with FGA in 2021; what I saw was life-changing when we collaborated.  Sarah/FGA educated me and the public about SAF and sustainability, but FGA is about so much more than just SAF. FGA stand for protecting the right to a safe climate, they work heavily on mentoring, equality, humanity and sustainability; Preventing human rights harms as a result of carbon emissions, & recognising the right to a healthy environment. Aviation, shipping and climate change regulating bodies are areas and industries where I see room for improvement in gender diversity. These very male-dominated areas are struggling to achieve targets where women have so much to bring to the table.”

Since 2021, we have seen initiatives such as Aviation for All and Diversity in transport being set up. FGA also joined some youth and diversity work with Boeing in 2021 and Boeing posted their gender stats that year for the first time and made commitments to gender balance. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and EUROCONTROL now have a gender balance quota too. In 2022, IATA and EUROCONTROL committed to having 25% more women in technical roles by 2025 as part of the global 25by2025 initiative, and there has already been progress in the number of women in leadership positions in aviation. In 2022, the line-up looked like this:

FGA is proud that they now have a place at many tables, for the progress that has been made and will continue their mission to bring diversity, equity and inclusion to the aviation sector and society at large. FGA Trends 2023 will be out soon focusing on – travel, sustainability, sport and life & society.

Listen to FGA’s latest podcast here.

Contact: for further information or for collaboration.

Nottingham Forest take 20 min domestic flight to Blackpool

“Whether it is right or wrong, I think it is pretty normal for a team, in the Premier League particularly, and for a lot of Championship teams, to fly distances like that.” – says Steve Cooper, Head Coach of Forest

“We don’t think there is ever a need to take a flight domestically in a small country.” we told the BBC.

In the last few years FGA have written the sustainability standards for the business aviation sector which includes private jets. We wrote the standard on sustainable aviation fuel use within the sector so have been advocating for the use of greener fuels for essential air travel since our start. The standards are now complete and being tested at pilot level within the sector. As a company we understand air travel will occur and we are not working to stop all of that but demand and growth do need to be curbed, which is part of the aviation sector’s plan through Destination 2050. We have been researching electric planes for shorter journeys which at test level are at a 44 seater size now. We also have been testing and promoting multi modal travel; more eMobility, electric vehicles, hydrogen buses and the train. We also saw Liverpool did take the train last year to one London game. Credit to them.

“We are under a lot of pressure globally to reduce carbon especially from travel,” FGA said in a statement to the BBC.

“As athletes and Premier League clubs have such high profiles they can have a really strong role in climate topics.”

We have been working with leading sports organisations on low carbon travel and are experts in the field, always researching, building projects, investment and have pioneered sustainability when it wasn’t popular to do so, we’re not there yet as we can see from the BBC article but we are getting initiatives and solutions more integrated into business as usual in sport.

Reach out if you want to discuss your needs, we take an advisory position, give the latest leading edge information and guidance and get you ahead of the game.

Read about FGA’s involvement in writing the sustainability standards for the business aviation sector here.

Contact for more info.

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 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 Targets, 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 use 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 2.4 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‘, ‘Bridging the say/do gap‘, ‘How do we market climate change?‘ and an op-ed we 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 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 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, 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 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:

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.