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Historic CO2 accord
A momentous United Nations accord was reached at the ICAO Assembly (International Civil Aviation Organization) on 7 October in Montreal. Agreements were reached on the global reduction of CO2 emissions by the air transport sector.
More than 60 countries at the Assembly agreed to allow airlines to grow only on a CO2-neutral basis after 2020. The main premise is to compensate for the increase in CO2 emissions produced by the international airline sector using precisely defined and authorised emissions reductions projects over the period 2021-2015. This is the first global accord within a single sector and the first large-scale accord since the Paris climate accord. The technical development of the system will be carried out by the ICAO’s technical committee between now and the start of 2021.
Most attention at the ICAO Assembly was focused on emissions trading, in other words, compensating for CO2 emissions. KLM believes, however, that an integrated limitation of CO2 emissions is just as important and we put this into practice. Think, for instance, of the deployment of new aircraft, sustainable biofuel, more efficient use of airspace and optimising flight operations. KLM has been working on an integrated climate action plan to reduce CO2 emissions since 2005. Our target is a 20% reduction of CO2 emissions per passenger by 2020. KLM was, moreover, the first airline in the world to operate a commercial flight – to Paris – fuelled in part by sustainable biofuel. More destinations soon followed.
Sphere of influence
Besides all of this KLM is pioneering the development of a market for sustainable biofuels. We are cofounder of the biofuel supplier SkyNRG. The KLM Corporate BioFuel Programme was launched in 2012 to enable companies to operate some of their flights using sustainable biofuel, thereby stimulating the further development of biofuels. In 2016, KLM signed a three-year biofuel contract to operate all its flights from Los Angeles to Amsterdam fuelled in part with sustainable biofuel. Since 2008, passengers have been able to compensate for the CO2 emitted by their flights through the CO2ZERO programme. This programme supports CO2 reduction projects that bear the Gold Standard label, including a project to install energy-efficient charcoal burners in Ghana.
Last, but not least, over recent years KLM has invested in fleet renewal; new energy efficient aircraft, such as the Dreamliner and the Embraer 175, use far less kerosene than their predecessors. Company-wide, a lot of attention is being paid to reducing weight; the less you take on board, the less fuel you burn and the lower the CO2 emissions. Lighter trolleys, containers, cargo nets and blankets, and more efficient stowage are just a few examples.
KLM is continuing on its path to cut CO2 emissions and hopes that it can convince other players in the air transport sector, who have not yet taken up the challenge, to join in.
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