Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, will purchase carbon offsets to neutralise all of the CO2 emissions generated by its widebody 787-10 'Greenliner' aircraft next year.
The initative marks the first step of the airline's journey to cut its CO2 emissions to 50 per cent of last year's levels by 2035 and to reach full net zero emissions by 2050, which is a first for any major airline in the Gulf, it said. It will also roll out an additional voluntary programme offering flyers the chance to offset their own carbon emissions via its website.
“It’s encouraging to end a difficult year with such a positive move for the sustainable future of aviation," said Etihad chief executive, Tony Douglas. "While the year brought many challenges, sustainability has remained at the top of our agenda, and the work hasn’t stopped."
The company's offset programme has been sourced through Respira, a carbon offset finance business that specialises in creating tailored offsetting projects. Etihad's scheme will see it buy 80,000 tonnes of CO2 offsets that will fund a Tanzanaian forestry project.
The Makame Savannah Redd project is aimed at curbing deforestation and better managing local resources across 100,000 hectares of the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem, the airline said.
London-based Respira is also setting up operations within Abu Dhabi Global Market, the emirate's financial free zone, to support Etihad's sustainability efforts and bring its offset expertise to the region, the company said.
“Respira offers a fresh approach to the carbon market by aligning the interests of project developers, buyers and capital providers," Ana Haurie, the company's chief executive, said.
"It is a privilege to work with Etihad, which has shown real commitment to its sustainability goals through what is a challenging period for the airline industry,” she added.
Etihad's offsetting programme is being verified and certified by carbon offset assurance body Verra.