Brazil’s GOL Linhas Aéreas has pledged to go Carbon Neutral by 2050, becoming the first Latin American airline to commit to a plan for sustainable aviation.
Aviation’s Climate Commitments
On 22 April 2021, the world celebrated Earth Day, an annual event in its 51st year, dedicated to protecting the environment and raising global awareness about climate change. Earth Day is now the world’s largest civic event and is celebrated in 193 countries. To mark Earth Day 2021, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) released two publications as part of its Eco-Airport Toolkit e-collection focusing on climate resilient airports and water management at airports. Each publication provides practical information for decision-makers engaged in green airport planning and design.
The ICAO has been driving the green recovery of aviation by promoting an ambitious decarbonization plan for the sector and supporting pioneering airport infrastructure projects. It’s developed a methodology to calculate the carbon dioxide emissions from air travel for use in offset programs. The ICAO Carbon Emissions Calculator allows passengers to estimate the emissions attributed to their air travel. The methodology applies industry data to account for various factors such as aircraft types, route-specific data, passenger load factors, and cargo carried.
How Do Airlines go Carbon Neutral?
Aviation’s global emissions are significantly lower than that of cars or trucks. Nevertheless, the ICAO has said that carbon pollution from flying could triple by 2050. This deadline is being acknowledged by many global airlines in different continents, such as United Airlines, Qantas, and Malaysia Airlines, which are committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
In order to go carbon neutral, airlines can pledge to remove the amount of carbon they emit into the atmosphere, usually by planting trees or using synthetic aviation fuel. However, United Airlines is the first airline to commit to removing all of its carbon permanently by investing in direct-air-capture technology. This new technology captures carbon dioxide directly from the air with an engineered, mechanical system and compresses it to be injected into geological storage or used to make long-lasting products.
GOL’s Sustainable Development Goals
GOL is the first airline in Latin America to set a target for going carbon neutral. It also plans to allow its passengers to offset their trip’s carbon emissions. In doing this, GOL will be the first of Brazil’s major airlines to allow customers this option. Furthermore, it will work on four goals. The development of new technologies, including biofuels, operational improvements such as improvement of air space standards, better use of infrastructure and logistics, and market-based measures. These goals were defined by the ICAO and confirmed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
GOL Vice President of Operations Celso Ferrer said:
“GOL’s strategy to attain zero net carbon emissions until 2050 is focused on the conduction of operational improvements and techniques that reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases, improving the fuel efficiency and replacing oil-derived fuels for alternatives with a smaller carbon impact. We hope to count on market-based mechanisms, including carbon compensations in the short-, medium- and long-term, along with the simplification of infrastructure and technological evolutions needed to allow a transition for low-carbon aviation.”
It’s encouraging to see the global aviation sector play its part by supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals framework. By continuing to grow in a sustainable manner, aviation can strive to be a force for good for many years to come.
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