This year, Qantas announced two plans in direct conflict. In March, Australia’s largest airline group went public with the admirable goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and a 25 per cent reduction by 2030 by using new clean fuels, boosting efficiency and using carbon offsets.
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For the aviation industry, this was a watershed moment, containing world-leading details and bold links between executive pay and improved sustainability.
But only two months later, Qantas confirmed its order for 12 new Airbus planes capable of ultra long-distance flights, making possible non-stop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London or New York.
What’s the conflict? These long-distance flights must carry substantially more fuel and as a result, fewer passengers, making them markedly less efficient.
If the aviation industry heads down this route, it will be a backwards step in the fight against climate change. While Qantas intends these flights to be carbon neutral, this will have to involve carbon offsets given there are no other options at present.
As the world gets more serious about climate action, flights like this will come under scrutiny.