“Carbon neutrality can be achieved today,” said Nancy Bsales, COO for sustainability at 4Air, which launched the first carbon exchange program dedicated to business aviation this year. At AIN’s Building a Sustainable Flight Department Conference yesterday, her presentation—“Carbon Neutral, Carbon Credits, Book and Claim: Understanding the Options”—explained the “tools we have to take care of it,” and detailed the nomenclature of sustainability.
At the flight department level, the process starts by establishing an emissions baseline, measured in metric tons of CO2, and setting a budget for buying offsets. Jet fuel is the greatest contributor, but all ground operations, maintenance, and offices, and other energy-intensive equipment—even including phone chargers—contribute to the carbon footprint.
Reducing one tonne of emissions via offsets costs $5 to $10, Bsales said, and achieving total neutrality through offsets would cost “less than one percent of your [flight department] budget.” The projects these credits fund are all audited and validated to ensure they reduce total emissions the equivalent amount, and Bsales explained the choices buyers have in selecting programs that align with their corporate or personal values, be it environmental, social, or economic sustainability.
Concurrently, operators should try to increase use of sustainable aviation fuel and ask fuel providers to increase its availability, demand that will help spur more production. As these initiatives spread, Bsales said, “No one will look at private aircraft and say, ‘What did you do about sustainability?’”