The commitment is made by oneworld, which includes British Airways and Iberia alongside American Airlines, Qantas, Qathay Pacific and more
Global airline alliance Oneworld has become the latest leading brand to commit to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as the aviation industry looks to accelerate efforts to tackle its outsized environmental footprint.
The commitment, which was announced late last week, sees the alliance's 13 member airlines sign up to the goal, with each pledging to develop individual approaches to reaching carbon neutrality through initiatives such as efficiency measures, investments in sustainable aviation fuels and more fuel-efficient aircraft, reductions in waste and the use of single-use plastics, and carbon offsets.
The group-wide pledge builds on targets previously set by some of the alliance's individual members. For example, IAG - the parent of British Airways and Iberia - became the first airline group in the world to commit to net zero emissions by 2050 in October 2019. Japan Airlines and Qantas have also publicly targeted net zero carbon emissions by 2050, while Finnair aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.
Other oneworld members include American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines, and SriLankan Airlines, which have all now committed to achieving net zero emissions.
"The commitment of oneworld member airlines to reach net zero emissions by 2050 underlines the importance that we as an alliance have placed on becoming a more sustainable industry," said Oneworld chairman and Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.
"Despite the challenges we are all facing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we have not lost sight of the responsibility we have to reduce emissions in the long term and today's announcement reflects the strength of that commitment."
The commitment aims to build on progress made via existing initiatives at several of the member airlines. British Airways, for example, is part of a project to turn household and commercial waste into renewable jet fuel. American Airlines has undertaken an extensive fleet replacement initiative bringing in more than 500 new, more fuel-efficient aircraft into its fleet in place of less-efficient planes.
Beyond oneworld, earlier this year a group of key members of the UK aviation industry - including Boeing, Virgin Atlantic and London City Airport - committed to achieving net zero by 2050.
The commitment was made by members of the UK Sustainable Aviation coalition, whose chair Adam Morton welcomed the Oneworld pledge.
"The Oneworld net zero pledge is a great ending to ICAO's Stocktaking 2020 event. It is very encouraging to see this broad support for net zero aviation from carriers from across the world," Morton said.
The move comes ahead of the introduction of a new UN-backed carbon offset scheme - dubbed CORSIA - which aims to ensure expansion of the global aviation industry remains carbon neutral.
It also comes amidst growing calls from policymakers and the public for the aviation industry to tackle its emissions, with critics warning the sector faces major technical challenges if it is to decarbonise and as such more robust policies may be needed to help curb demand for flights if the world is to deliver net zero emissions by mid-century.
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