12 February 2021

GreenAir News

Reporting on aviation and the environment

Qantas and BP agree to work together to develop an Australian sustainable aviation fuels industry

Qantas and BP have formed a partnership to work towards their shared net zero ambitions by jointly exploring opportunities in advanced sustainable fuels, advocacy for further decarbonisation in the aviation sector, renewable power solutions and generation, carbon management and emerging technology. In late 2019, the Australian airline group announced a commitment to a net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050 and through its co-chair with International Airlines Group, brought together the members of the oneworld airline alliance to agree the same goal. At the same time as making its 2050 carbon neutrality commitment, Qantas pledged to offset the growth in emissions from all domestic and international operations from 2020, going beyond its obligations under the ICAO CORSIA scheme, although it has since changed the baseline to 2019 following the impact of Covid-19 on 2020 traffic. The airline has also said it would invest A$50 million ($37m) over 10 years to help develop a sustainable aviation fuel industry in the country, a key ambition of its collaboration with BP.

“While the Covid crisis has compelled us to make many changes across the business, one thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to minimising the impact we have on the environment,” commented Andrew Parker, Qantas Group Executive, Government, Industry and Sustainability. “Even though we have been flying a lot less, we’ve actually seen the same proportion of customers choosing to offset their domestic travel during the pandemic – showing this issue remains top of people’s minds.

“Airlines globally have a responsibility to cut emissions and combat climate change, particularly once travel demand starts to return. The Qantas Group has set some ambitious targets to be net carbon neutral by 2050 and while offsetting emissions is a big part of that in the next few years, longer term initiatives like building a sustainable aviation fuel sector in Australia, are key.”

The airline group claims to operate one of the industry’s largest carbon offset programmes, with around 10% of customers booking flights on its website opting to offset the emissions from their flights. In turn, both Qantas and low-cost subsidiary Jetstar match every dollar spent by customers.

“We think the programme can grow and we have a lot of corporates, not just individuals, signing up for it,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told a recent Eurocontrol Aviation StraightTalk interview (see video below). “Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is going to take a while to get established and make it economic.”

He said Qantas would be working on a plan with BP to create a local SAF industry to help it meet the 2050 target. “BP think it’s a great opportunity. In Australia we have a massive land mass and our airline, pre-Covid, was spending $4 billion a year on fuel. There’s potential for an industry here in Australia that we’re excited about developing.”

Commenting on the tie-up with Qantas, BP’s EVP, Regions, Cities & Solutions, William Lin, said: “At BP, we’re focusing on working with corporates in key industrial sectors that currently have significant carbon emissions to manage and need to decarbonise – sectors such as aviation.

“By bringing our complementary capabilities together, we can help each other, and our customers, move at a faster pace on the energy transition journey. We are delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with Qantas on plans to reach net-zero while continuing to deepen our existing relationship.”

Frédéric Baudry, President, BP Australia and SVP Fuels & Low Carbon Solutions, Asia Pacific, said: “This is another move towards our ambition to be a net-zero company by 2050 or sooner and help the world to get to net-zero. We believe the planet needs everyone working together on this vital cause, and that supporting companies to transition to a more sustainable future means we can all get there faster.

“Forming strong strategic partnerships with leading companies like Qantas is an important way to achieve our shared goals and we are proud that BP is working to provide decarbonisation solutions for customers in Australia.”

Photo: BP

Excerpt of interview with Qantas CEO Alan Joyce talking about sustainability and SAF: