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How passengers can tackle climate change in aviation

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Passengers disembark from a Jambojet plane. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • The fundamental disadvantage for the airline industry is that while there are existing solutions to reduce emissions for many of the large emitters, there are no technologies yet to decarbonise the aviation sector.
  • The sector is addressing the challenges through development of more efficient aircraft and engines, investing in lightweight seats and cabin equipment and replacing heavy pilot manuals with tablet computers to burn less fuel.
  • Passengers can help in reducing our carbon emissions and reducing their own carbon footprint by travelling with less baggage that allows the airplanes to burn less fuel, among other measures.

The concept of carbon offsetting is slowly gaining momentum, especially in the aviation industry. The principle entails taking practical action to pay for or act on the emissions caused by your operations.

Data from The International Council on Clean Transportation shows that as of 2018, the aviation industry globally contributed 2.4 percent of global carbon emissions from use of fossil fuel, a 32 percent increase over a period of five years.

However, the overall contribution to climate change was higher, accounting for 3.5 percent of global warming. This is expected to triple by 2050.

The fundamental disadvantage for the airline industry is that while there are existing solutions to reduce emissions for many of the large emitters through deployment of renewable and nuclear energy solutions, there are no technologies yet to decarbonise the aviation sector.

The UN estimates the annual average economic losses from climate-related disasters to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

The principle of carbon offsetting does not require companies to cut emissions internally but rather provides an environmentally effective option for sectors where the potential for further emissions reductions is limited or the costs associated with reduction are excessively high.

But as the late Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai once said, rather than be overwhelmed by the challenges that we face, it is imperative that we become the Hummingbird and do something about it.

At Jambojet, we are cognizant of the fact that our operations have an impact on the environment, and we have taken measures to reduce our carbon footprint.

We are committed to grow at least two million trees by 2030. We plan to do this through partnerships with counties in the destinations we fly to, government institutions such as Kenya Forest Service and other corporates that hold similar values.

Scientists have proven that reforestation is one of the biggest and most efficient ways to tackle climate change. Passengers can also help us in reducing our carbon emissions and reducing their own carbon footprint by travelling with less baggage that allows the airplanes to burn less fuel, among other measures.

At a global level, the good news is that the aviation industry recognises that its operations immensely contribute to climate change and is taking responsibility.

However, the sector has faced challenges in meeting these ambitious goals and is addressing the challenges through a four-pillar strategy that includes the development of more efficient aircraft and engines, identifying weight savings such as investing in lightweight seats and cabin equipment and replacing heavy pilot manuals with tablet computers to burn less fuel.

The third pillar is infrastructure that relates to navigational improvements, making better use of airspace and streamlining the routes taken by aircraft to cut down of flight time while the last strategy is a global market-based measure to fill remaining emissions gap until other measures have taken full effect.

The industry is doing well in tackling climate change.

Karanja Ndegwa, Acting managing director, Jambojet.