The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (also known as the IPCC) indicates that aviation contributes around 3 percent of the world's total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Net zero carbon emissions means achieving an overall balance between carbon emissions produced and carbon emissions taken out of the atmosphere. The term net zero is important because, for CO2 at least, evidence suggests that this is the state at which global warming stops.The term “net” in our net zero goal is important. This is because there is no current technology mix that can enable the aviation industry to reduce all emissions to absolute zero by 2050. While our focus is on deep and widespread gross emissions reductions, we will also need to rely on carbon removal solutions outside our sector to achieve our goal. These greenhouse gas removals will need to be of high integrity and permanent.
Residual carbon emissions are any carbon emissions which remain after Air New Zealand has implemented all technically feasible opportunities to reduce carbon emissions through deep and widespread gross emissions reductions. Even with the full deployment of available technologies, there is no known technology mix that can enable the aviation industry to reach absolute zero carbon emissions by 2050. This is why high integrity and permanent carbon removal solutions outside our sector remain in our roadmap to address residual carbon emissions.
Air New Zealand reports on our Scope 1 (direct emissions from our owned/controlled sources), Scope 2 (indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by Air New Zealand), and Scope 3 (emissions that result from activities within the airlines value chain) greenhouse gas emissions annually in our Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report. These can be found on our reporting and communication webpage. You can find our 2021 Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report here.
There are seven main greenhouse gases, with the three major ones being carbon dioxide (CO2) – mainly from fossil fuel use, methane (CH4) – mainly from animals and waste, and nitrous oxide (N2O) – mainly from agriculture.Usually, all greenhouse gases are expressed as carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2-e) which is a metric measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases based on their 'global-warming potential' by converting amounts of other gases to the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide with the same global warming potential. For example, the global-warming potential over 100 years for methane is 28 and for nitrous oxide is 265 (IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report). This means that emissions of 1 million metric tonnes of methane and nitrous oxide respectively is equivalent to emissions of 28 and 265 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide over 100 years.This is why carbon reporting is typically transacted in 'carbon dioxide equivalents', or CO2-e and often simplified to ‘carbon’.
Whilst CO2 remains the most commonly cited and understood pollutant from aviation, its contribution to global effective radiative forcing (warming), is estimated to be only a portion of the industry's total impact. Research suggests that other pollutants from jet engines can cause further warming beyond the impact of carbon alone. For example, particulate matter has been linked with increased contrail-induced cirrus cloudiness and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions with net increased greenhouse gases. Despite the importance of these “non-CO2 factors” on aviation-induced warming, the science supporting these findings remains nascent. Currently, Air New Zealand’s decarbonisation roadmap and the Science Based Targets initiative aviation methodology only cover CO2-e emissions. Air New Zealand acknowledges that the non-C02 impacts of aviation will need to be addressed to deliver the ultimate goal of limiting warming and continues to monitor emerging research as well as best practice for addressing the impact of non-C02 factors.Air New Zealand has committed to report publicly on its collaboration with stakeholders to improve understanding of opportunities to mitigate the non-CO2-e impacts of aviation annually over the period to 2030.
Yes, Air New Zealand has set a 2030 interim science-based carbon reduction target that has been validated by the Science Based Targets initiative. Our interim science-based target is to reduce well-to-wake greenhouse gas emissions related to jet fuel by 28.9% per revenue tonne kilometre (RTK) by 2030, from a 2019 baseline. This equates to a 16.3% reduction in absolute emissions over the period. The 2030 target is aligned to a ‘well below 2°C’ pathway to prevent the worst effects of climate change. Meeting the 2030 interim target requires an absolute reduction in carbon emissions, with no provision for carbon offsets. Non-CO2-e effects which may also contribute to aviation induced warming are not included in this target. Air New Zealand has committed to report publicly on its collaboration with stakeholders to improve understanding of opportunities to mitigate the non-CO2-e impacts of aviation annually over its target timeframe. The target boundary includes biogenic emissions and removals from bioenergy feedstocks. Learn more about the target here.
Air New Zealand’s target is aligned to a ‘well-below 2°C’ pathway. The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is developing a more ambitious 1.5°C aligned methodology for aviation. Air New Zealand will continue to engage with the SBTi on this methodology and will evaluate the 1.5°C pathway once it is released.
Science-based targets validated by the SBTi show companies how much and how quickly they need to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to prevent the worst effects of climate change. Setting a science-based target allows businesses to set a robust and credible carbon reduction target that is independently assessed to ensure it aligns with the latest climate science. Getting the target validated by the SBTi was a rigorous process whereby Air New Zealand’s GHG emissions were reviewed in detail by the SBTi to ensure an accurate emissions baseline was identified and a science-based target was set.Science based targets are targets aligned to the commitments made by world governments in 2015 through the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to well-below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C. The globally recognised and consistent scientific approach to setting a science-based target allows progress on carbon reductions to be compared with other companies’ decarbonisation efforts. Over 1,500 companies are leading the transition to a net zero economy by setting emissions reduction targets validated by the SBTi.
The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is a global accreditation organisation for endorsing emissions reduction targets. It is a partnership between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The SBTi drives ambitious climate action in the private sector by enabling organisations to set science-based emissions reduction targets aligned to the latest climate science. The SBTi provides technical assistance and expert resources to companies who set science-based targets in line with the latest climate science and brings together a team of experts to provide companies with independent assessment and validation of targets.
SAF is critical to reducing our emissions because it is available now, we can use it in all our existing aircraft no matter the distance being travelled, and it requires no expensive upgrades or replacement of pipeline, storage, and on-airport infrastructure. In the near term, SAF is important for our whole network, to enable us to decarbonise while we wait for next generation aircraft to become available on our domestic network. For long haul travel, it is likely to be the only technology available to decarbonise out to 2050.
We think SAF supply over time will need to include both local production and imported supply to improve supply chain security and the ability to manage peaks and troughs in demand over time. Importantly, domestic production also provides a circular economy for New Zealand’s waste streams. From our discussions with suppliers, domestically produced SAF is likely to be more cost effective than imported SAF. Domestic supply is also important given the current scarcity of global SAF supply which is particularly acute in the Asia-Pacific region. Although SAF production is expected to grow, so too will SAF demand, as more airlines look to SAF to decarbonise. Domestic production has other important co-benefits, including creating new jobs and other economic development opportunities.
SAF is safe and proven – since 2016, more than 370,000 commercial flights have used SAF.
Air New Zealand does not intend to become an owner, operator or direct investor of a SAF plant. The airline’s investment would instead be in the form of a long-term SAF off-take agreement from a SAF plant. Long term off-take agreements can be critical to the business case for a plant as they provide demand certainty for the SAF producer and its investors.
Depending on the outcome of the Request for Proposals process the airline is running with the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment, we would hope to see a plant commissioned and producing SAF in New Zealand in around 5-7 years.
These aircraft will operate much like our conventional aircraft today. Out on the ramp you can expect engine noise to be lower and, for next generation aircraft, the smell of jet fuel to disappear.The aircraft will look and operate like a traditional aircraft, but are likely to have more engines compared to the twin engine aircraft we operate at present.
Initially we would look to deploy aircraft that use this technology on regional routes, but as we bring more of them into the fleet, and the technology continues to improve, we would look to deploy them across the domestic network.
That’s something we expect to learn a bit more about under our various partnerships with innovators in the next generation aircraft technology space. At this stage we envisage this type of aircraft being used on shorter regional or domestic flights rather than long haul international flights. Hydrogen technology has the potential to reach across the Tasman or to the Pacific Islands in the future, if the initial concepts prove successful.
New Zealand has a unique opportunity to be a world leader in the adoption of next generation aircraft technology, given the country’s high percentage of renewable energy which can be used to generate both electricity and green hydrogen.We want to ensure that hydrogen as an alternative energy source for aviation is produced in a sustainable way, using renewable energy, with minimal impact on the environment.Making green hydrogen a reality in New Zealand is a big part of our next generation aircraft technology workstream. As is understanding what demands these aircraft could place on a green hydrogen ecosystem that will be needed to decarbonise aviation.
Yes, aircraft that use next generation aircraft technology will be safe. All aircraft operated by Air New Zealand have been through extensive flight testing and been certified to the highest international standards. These certification standards have allowed aviation to become the safest form of modern transport. All future aircraft that use next generation technology will be certified to these international standards, and will meet or exceed the safety standards we achieve today.In addition, aircraft that use next generation aircraft technology are likely to have additional engines compared to the twin engine aircraft we operate at present. More engines improve safety as there are more redundant systems if one motor has a problem.In terms of hydrogen technology, the main focus of the ZEROe hydrogen technology we are investigating through our partnership with Airbus is for aircraft that will convert hydrogen to electricity to power electric motors, as opposed to burning hydrogen in an engine as a jet fuel replacement. Hydrogen will be stored in tanks and certified using the same safety standards as the jet fuel tanks used today. The engines will be large electric motors which have less moving parts than traditional jet turbines which makes them safer and easier to maintain.
Boeing 787 aircraft are around 20 percent more fuel efficient compared to similarly sized predecessor aircraft.
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