By Dieter Holger
EasyJet said Tuesday that it will offset carbon-dioxide emissions from every flight as the industry grapples with environmental concerns fears of fuel taxes in Europe.
The British budget airline said it would invest in projects like renewable energy including solar and wind and plant trees to allay the impact of the fuel it burns. It is also in the process of developing an electric aircraft with Wright Electric and Airbus SE and said it would use more sustainable aviation fuels made from biomaterials when they become available.
"We know that carbon offsetting is only an interim measure while new technologies are developed," easyJet said on its updated sustainability website.
Carbon offsetting has become common practice among carriers as the industry faces mounting pressure to address its environmental impact.
"Clearly the industry sees itself coming under more pressure in the future and is trying to get one step ahead as climate change becomes an increasingly important issue for politicians, regulators and the public," said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, in response to easyJet's decision.
Air travel is the most carbon-intensive form of travel and contributes to an estimated 4.9% of man-made global warming, according to Transport & Environment, a research and advocacy group. T&E said that emissions from the sector have doubled in the last 20 years.
Citing research from the European Commission, T&E said that the vast majority of offsets paid by polluting companies don't deliver emission cuts. Instead, governments need to end the aviation sector's freedom from fuel taxes and mandate cleaner fuels, said Andrew Murphy, aviation manager at T&E.
"Airlines paying others so that they can go on polluting is not a solution to aviation's climate problem," he said.
Investors are also skeptical about carbon offsetting, especially programs that plant trees like easyJet's, analysts at Citi said on Monday. Citi said planting trees is a "seemingly futile goal" since a typical tree can absorb only as much as 25 kilograms of carbon dioxide a year, struggling to offset even a single long-haul flight.
Anthony Oruna Goriainoff contributed to this article
Write to Dieter Holger at email@example.com; @dieterholger