photo by caribb via flickr
In a move to improve "environmental efficiency", German airline Lufthansa has announced several environmental initiatives, all of which set long term goals for environmental performance. There are 15 "guidelines" which the airline has adopted, but the main ones are: Increasing the amount of biofuel it mixes with conventional kerosene by "up to ten percent" by 2020.
Reducing CO2 emissions per kilometer flown by 25% (versus 2006 levels) by 2020—in line with IATA-sponsored targets.
Reducing nitrogen oxide emissions by 80% of year 2000 levels by 2020.
Support of emissions based airport landing fees, such as those introduced earlier this year at Frankfurt and Munich.
Lufthansa chairman Wolfgang Mayrhuber touts past environmental achievements: "Lufthansa has in recent years succeeded in decoupling traffic growth from its deleterious impact on the environment. Since 1991, half our traffic growth has been achieved without any increase in CO2 emissions," and their vision for the future, "Our strategic environmental programme for safeguarding mobility clearly demonstrates that we are firmly intent on doing our share in the future in shouldering our responsibility for environment and climate protection."
Lufthansa has not stated more concrete plans as to how these goals will be reached, nor what feedstocks for biofuels it is investigating.
Given the drubbing air travel has received from some quarters of the green movement (George Monbiot representing one of the most vocal air travel opponents), this news may be received as too little too late. However, from my perspective, some progress is better than denying there's a problem with air travel beyond rising fuel costs.