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An Air Canada A320 parked in Los Angeles. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Air Canada Commits to Net-Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050

Even as the ongoing pandemic and climate change have spurred ongoing the environmental, ethical, social and economical discussions and affected lives of the most fragile people across the globe, Air Canada announced its long-term commitment to advancing climate sustainability throughout its business by adopting an ambitious climate target to realize a goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions throughout its global operations by 2050.

To reach this, Air Canada has set an absolute midterm greenhouse gas net reduction target for 2030 in its air and ground operations compared to its 2019 baseline and has committed to investing $50 million in Sustainable Aviation Fuel and carbon reduction and removal technologies.

“Economic growth and sustainability are equally important, and we have a strong track record for both. Despite the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain deeply committed to long-term sustainability,” said Air Canada President and Chief Executive Michael Rousseau.

“Climate change is critical, and we believe we can and must do more to address this for the future of our environment. This is why we are further embedding climate considerations into our strategic decision-making, and undertaking a very ambitious plan that is meaningful, will support Canada’s leadership position on climate change, advance de-carbonization in the airline industry while keeping fares affordable for customers,” Rousseau continued.

Previous Sustainability Programs

Air Canada is very focused on investing in innovative, long term, sustainable emission reduction solutions with the Absolute 2030 midterm emissions reduction target, which is aimed at ensuring meaningful progress towards Air Canada’s ambitious net-zero goal while the airline, technology and energy sectors are transitioning to low carbon alternatives. This will also intensify the airline’s efforts at environmental management, which have already been in process for some years now.

Air Canada has in the past been recognized for its leadership in carbon emission mitigation. In 2019 and 2020, it was recognized by Vancouver Airport Authority as the YVR Green Excellence winner for green initiatives on Sea Island, including water and energy conservation, waste minimization and the Richmond Ocean Shoreline Cleanup.

An Air Canada 777 departs Las Vegas.
(Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

In 2018, Air Canada was named Eco-Airline of the Year by Air Transport World for its leadership in fuel efficiency and sustainability initiatives. At the time, the airline had undertaken a $10 billion climate program including a fleet modernization, investments in sustainable aviation fuel development and support in Canada, commitments to fuel efficiency and new route improvements.

Air Canada has also built a solid foundation in energy sustainability through numerous comprehensive initiatives to reduce its environmental footprint since 1990 and has improved fuel efficiency by 43%.  From 2016 to 2019, the airline reduced more than 135,000 tonnes of greenhouse gasses from its air operations through fuel efficiency initiatives.

Key Focuses Moving Forward

Air Canada has identified the following key carbon reduction pillars:

Fleet and operations:  Air Canada will continue deploying its newly-modernized and energy-efficient Airbus A220 and Boeing 737 MAX narrow-body fleets, which are more fuel efficient than their predecessors. These fleets are expected to average approximately 20% less fuel consumption and emit 50% fewer nitrogen oxides than aircraft they replace. Air Canada will continue to integrate climate factors in route and fleet planning, phase out carbon-intensive ground equipment, further advance electric vehicles and seek other electrification opportunities.

Innovation Across Businesses: Air Canada aims to further evaluate the viability, safety and performance of new electric, hydrogen or hybrid operational technologies and other innovations such as short-haul transportation opportunities and electric drones to complement and support its global business network.

Sustainable Aviation Fuels and Clean Energy:  To further its work on sustainable aviation fuels, Air Canada will invest $50 million in sustainable fuels and other low carbon aviation fuel developments, evaluate the practical applications of renewable energy sources such as biogas and renewable electricity and pursue energy transition measures.

Carbon Reductions and Removals:  Air Canada will explore carbon-negative emission technologies and other direct emission reduction and removal strategies in addition to further developing its carbon offset strategy for CORSIA compliance, customer offerings and more.

Victor Shalton
Victor Shalton
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