British Airways vs EasyJet


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Presentation of my final paper for Global Policy and Sustainability course

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  • Gro Harlem Brundtland“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It has two key concepts: - the concept of 'needs', in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which priority should be given; and- the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs”.CARBON OFFSETTINGIs a means of neutralising the negative impacts of ground and air travel. This is done by calculating the carbon dioxide emissions created by the journey and further investing in projects that prevent or remove an equivalent amount of emissions from the atmosphere.The advice is to not see carbon offsetting as a solution to the problem, but rather as a Band-Aid, or a patch-up, for when it is too late to reduce the carbon emissions which will be emitted in the (near) future. The hierarchy says that the consumer is to first calculate the emissions released, furthermore avoid carbon emission altogether if possible, and if they cannot, they should at least try to reduce their emissions, and as a last outpost, they can offset any (remaining) carbon emissions.
  • There are four different greenhouse gases which enter the atmosphere because of human activities: Carbon Dioxide (CO²): Carbon dioxide is released by burning fuel, such as coal, natural gas, petrol and oil, but also by burning waste such as trees. Carbon dioxide is only removed from the atmosphere through absorption by plants, which is why several carbon offset programmes offer ‘plant-a-tree’ schemes. The carbon dioxide is the largest culprit when it comes to greenhouse gases, but it is also the easiest one to curb by changing our behaviour and habits. Methane (CH4): Methane is emitted by livestock, by producing fossil fuels, and by decaying organic waste in landfills.Nitrous Oxide (NO²): Nitrous oxide is emitted during agricultural and industrial activities, as well as during combustion of fossil fuels and solid waste.Fluorinated Gases: Hydro fluorocarbons, per fluorocarbons, and sulphur hexafluoride are synthetic greenhouse gases which are emitted from industrial processes.
  • There is considerable controversy regarding the effects of carbon emission and greenhouse gases on the environment. On the one hand, there is a petition signed by more than 31,000 scientists (out of which some 9,000 have a PhD in Science) who support the article written by Robinson, Robinson and Soon, who claim that the CO² emissions do not have a negative effect on the environment, rather the contrary. Their belief is that CO² indeed is a greenhouse gas which affects the atmosphere, but that the heating is insignificant, or even non-existent. They claim that the CO² heats the atmosphere, which increases water vapour and this later has a positive effect on plant life (increased plant life in previously arid areas) and thereby also animal life. Warmer weather furthermore increases the growing season, meaning that crops are available for a longer period of time which will help fight hunger. They further argue that humanity needs to extract oil, coal and natural gas in order to lift people from poverty across the globe. This will help maintain and improve “health, longevity, prosperity and productivity of all people”. “Human use of coal, oil, and natural gas has not harmfully warmed the Earth, and the extrapolation of current trends shows that it will not do so in the foreseeable future. The CO² produced does, however, accelerate the growth rates of plants and also permits plants to grow in drier regions.”(Arthur B. Robinson, 2007) What is not mentioned in this argument is that there may be other ways of lifting the poor out of poverty, rather than extracting and burning fossil fuels from the earth.
  • Other scientists try to prove the exact opposite: that the negativeeffects on the environment due to carbon emissions are accurate according to predictions made in the late 1800s. “the world is suffering more heat waves, droughts, floods and storms. The sea level is rising while mountain glaciers, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, and Arctic sea ice melt, all at accelerating rates. Important ecosystems from alpine meadows to coral reefs are showing signs of stress.”
  • Greenwash is described in the Oxford dictionary as “disinformation spread by an organization to present an environmentally responsible public image”. (Oxford Dictionaries)Greenpeace investigates different corporations to see if they can find greenwashing. “Dirty business” As the airline industry inherently is a dirty industry, it cannot be environmentally ‘good’ according to Greenpeace. “Ad bluster” means that a company spends more effort advertising their environmentally good deeds, than they do on being environmentally friendly. “Political spin” it is mentioned in the annual report of EasyJet that it lobbies politicians to exclude EasyJet from the ETS, or that they want changes (in its benefit) in the ETS, while they publically say that they support the ETS. “It’s the law, stupid” means that a company boasts about its “voluntary” environmental implementations whereas it is forced to implement the actions by law. An example of this in the airline industry is when it outfits the planes with cleaner combustion engines, whereas that will be a legal requirement in the near future anyways.
  • The idea of “sustainable growth” is an oxymoron – if we continue to grow by increasing our consumption, this is not sustainable. Keeping this in mind, we must first reduceour consumptionCalculate our emissions avoid consumption (travelling, keeping the lights on etc.).The problem is that if we continue to emit as much CO² today in the future, the CO² sinks will in effect become CO² sources as they cannot keep up with the increasing input of CO².
  • British Airways tries to persuade leaders to create a policy involving a reduction in aviation emissions based on carbon trading and want to minimise any competitive (dis)advantage that may rise. British Airways complies with the requirements of the EU Emission Trading System, but disagrees with the policymakers as they feel that there is a market distortion possible due to the ETS.  On a fuel level, BA have engaged in a JV with a company called Solena to build a biofuel plant which will supply fuel for the fleet of airplanes by 2014. “The plant will process 500,000 tons of municipal solid waste into fuel each year, (…) to produce the jet fuel and bionaptha, an oil blending component, and feedstock for the petrochemical industry.”Together with Rolls-Royce they are also testing the different biofuels to see if they comply with the environmental standards necessary.Due to the large owned fleet, it is possible for British Airways to directly control the sustainability of these areas.
  • In the Corporate and Social Responsibility report of EasyJet, it sets out its aims for operating in a sustainable way. In many ways, it seems as though there is a financial incentive to operate in a sustainable way, and as though the sustainability is not the most important, but rather a convenient way to avoid complaints about cramped seating or lack of services on board. For example, the airplane type which they use is typically equipped with 124 seats, but due to a lack of service (no meals on board, no different classes, fewer lavatories etc.) EasyJet manages to squeeze in 156 seats in the same plane. This offers EasyJet an environmental advantage by lowering the emissions per passenger, but also offers EasyJet the possibility to sell more seats for the same route. On their website, a variation on that theme can be found as EasyJet mentions that their idea behind sustainability is “EasyJet high efficiency = lower emissions = low fares”. It is interesting to read that EasyJet boasts about installing Phase 3 and Phase 4 combustors, whereas British Airways are installing the newest Phase 5 combustors on their airplanes.
  • EasyJet has three overallgoals with regards to sustainability: EasyJet Strives to be Efficient in the Air, and on the ground and EasyJet aims to lead the way in shaping a greener future for aviation. EasyJet has a policy of using ground based power when possible, giving savings of 44,000 tonnes of CO² per year (as well as cost savings due to decrease of fuel usage), compared to using the power of the airplane;EasyJet has lowered the height at which the landing lights are lowered, which reduces drag (and likely to reduce fuel usage as well, thus again, resulting in lower costs) and CO² emissions by 550 tonnes per year; and they also have a policy to only use one engine during taxi on departure (reducing fuel costs as well), which saves 1,380 tonnes of CO². With regards to this, EasyJet makes it clear what its priorities are in the ‘Environment’ section of their interactive annual report. “Fuel is our largest single cost item, so we are heavily incentivised to minimise its use and therefore CO² emissions”.Nonetheless, EasyJet appears to be a frontrunner on reducing weight and its commitment to sustainability is certainly visible through its website and CSR report.
  • The suggestion from IAE is that we change the way we travel – moving away from private transportations, especially in the cities around the world, easing several problems at once. There will be less congested roads, the emissions will significantly be lowered and general liveability will increase, if we move away from private means of transportation.  Were we to implement this change, we could meet the target of reducing our emissions by 50% by 2050. It is important that the transportation we use, including the public transportation and the freight transportation, is sustainable as well. This means improving on the efficiency of vehicles as well as enhancing the fuels used in the vehicles.  We must develop better and less expensive electric vehicles, and vehicles run on hydrogen or biofuels. The production of these fuels must be kept at a low cost so that many people can adopt the new fuel and use the new vehicles. Ethanol from sugar cane already provides low-cost biofuels and new types of biofuels (second-generation biofuels) seem to have a long-term potential to replace the current fossil fuels. The IEA estimates that the use of biofuels must increase 20-fold in order to meet the 2050 target.  Implementing electric vehicles as a standard must be done where the CO² level of producing electricity is low. It would not be wise to start promoting and selling electric vehicles where the means of producing electricity is polluting the environment with CO² (such as China, where they produce ‘dirty’ electricity from coal plants). In short, the combined implementation of alternative fuels, efficiency increase and shift of transportation from private to public transportation will be able to lower the CO² levels in the atmosphere by the required amount by 2050.  With regards to aviation, the air travel growth must be reduced by 25%, and become more fuel efficient, as the type of fuel for aircraft is limited due to the fact that it must be very energy dense. An electrical airplane doesn’t seem likely, but developing a high-density biofuel would be advantageous
  • Suggestions as to what travellers can do to become more aware of their CO² usage when travelling entails ensuring that the airline uses a modern fleet of aircraft, is using new technologies, such as both British Airways and EasyJet do. Flying to vacation destinations far away is not necessary and harms the environment without any good reason. Travellers should try to embrace the country they are living in, embrace the seasons and instead of taking the plane for shorter distances, take the train (especially once these have been developed to such a level that high-speed rail travel is cheaper and faster than queuing up for two hours before departure and queuing up once again for passport control or customs). For French people, instead of flying to the Maldives during Christmas, they could indulge in winter sport in the Alps, further adding value to the economy of their home country.  However, there are times when vacationers want to escape on a sunny vacation, and then they should follow these simple guidelines: fly direct, fly economy, use airlines which fill their airplanes, and bring little baggage. These measures mean a reduction in fuel usage and the per passenger CO² levels are lower than for other flights. The very best way to reduce the CO² is by reducing the dependency on air travel, and limiting it whenever possible.
  • EasyJet and British Airways both have a responsibility to operate in an environmentally efficient manner, and they both follow the laws and regulations set upon them. What is noteworthy about the comparison, is that the CO² emissions per passenger are considerably lower with EasyJet compared to British Airways. This comes mainly from a reduction in weight due to limitations of max allowed baggage, as well as from the removal of classes (no first class or business class tickets exist) and other sales points which British Airways offers to its customers. Notably, flying only point-to-point and trying to improve fuel-efficiency are other CO² savers. These are not only CO² savers, but also cost savers, which means that EasyJet can sell cheaper tickets and subsequently also fill their airplanes more than British Airways do.  However, the CO² levels must significantly be reduced over the next 40 years so that the required levels by 2050 are met. This can be done in several ways, amongst others by burying CO² emissions under the sea bed in used gas and oil fields, which possibly could contaminate the drinking water, change the PH levels of the surrounding cement and rock, making it porous and thus leaking out the liquefied CO² in the water and atmosphere.  The airline industry is also a greenwasher, claiming to help the environment by reducing emissions etc. but as the airline industry is inherently environmentally bad, it is greenwashing the general public. As is noted by the European Federation for Transport and Environment the airline industry has increased its CO² emission by 110% since 1990. This is alarming. Recent reports also claim that the airline emissions have increased in the last five years, even though there has been a recession.  
  • As an individual the steps are simple; calculate the CO² emissions, avoid CO² emissions by not travelling, and when travel is unavoidable, reduce the amount of CO² emissions used by travelling with less baggage, choosing airlines which operate with a new fleet and fly point-to-point as much as possible. Lastly, don’t forget to offset the CO² emissions.
  • British Airways vs EasyJet

    1. 1. British Airways versus EasyJet Corporate Responsibility Izabella Andersson MBA candidate 2012
    2. 2. Key concepts• Sustainability“Sustainable development is development that meets the needsof the present without compromising the ability of futuregenerations to meet their own needs.” Brundtland, 1983• Carbon Offsetting
    4. 4. Effects on the environment due to Greenhouse Gases• Robinson, Robinson, and Soon claim: – No negative impact, only positive – Heating is insignificant – CO² heats atmosphere > increased water vapour > positive effect on plant life in previously arid areas, increased biodiversity – Warmer weather increases growing season > crops available for longer period > fight off hunger – Extraction fights global poverty
    5. 5. Effects on the environment due to Greenhouse Gases• Accurate predictions made in 1800’s – Heat waves – Drought – Floods – Storms – Rising sea levels – Melting mountain glaciers – Stressed coral reefs and alpine meadows – Decreased biodiversity
    6. 6. Greenwashing“disinformation disseminated by an organizationso as to present an environmentally responsiblepublic image” Oxford dictionaryGreenpeace defines it by four categories:• Dirty business• Ad bluster• Political spin• It’s the law, stupid
    7. 7. Reducing CO² levelsSustainable growth is an oxymoron. We must:• Reduce consumption• Calculate emissions• Avoid consumption If we continue to emit as much CO² today in the future, the CO² sinks (such as the oceans and the forests) will become CO² sources as they cannot keep up with the increasing input of CO².
    8. 8. British Airways Corporate Responsibility• Zero waste to landfill in the UK by 2010 (it is not mentioned if this succeeded or not)• Improve the carbon efficiency by 25% by 2025 - reducing the grams of carbon dioxide per passenger kilometre from 111 to 83 grams• Reduce the average noise per flight by 15% by 2015• 50% reduction in the net CO² emissions by 2050
    9. 9. British Airways Corporate Responsibility How British Airways flies Minimises their impact through a more efficient operation By using the minimum thrust allowed for take-off for all of their operations, they minimise the amount of NO² emissions from the aircraft Reducing the aircraft flap angle on approach allows a small reduction in thrust levels and results in lower NO² emissions.. What it flies Invests in the latest technology including airframes, engines and alt. fuels BA equips its existing long-haul aircraft engines with: - DAC II combustors on the Boeing 777-236 GE90 engines - New Phase 5 combustors on 30 of the 57 Boeing 747-400 RB211-524G engines Supports research on biofuel and partnered up with Selena biofuels to develop a biofuel plant for their airplanesWhat it buysEnsuring they fully reflect the cost of their impact on the environment through emissions trading schemesBritish Airways supported and pushed for airline industry to be in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.
    10. 10. EasyJet Corporate Responsibility• Financial incentive for all its “responsibility”: – Lack of service > more seats > sells more seats per route > lower CO² emissions per passenger – Policy to use ground based power > saves CO² and $ – Lower height for landing lights and gear > less drag > less fuel > saves CO² and $ – One engine only during taxi on departure• EasyJet boasts about installing Phase 3 and Phase 4 combustors, whereas British Airways is installing the newest Phase 5 combustors on its airplanes
    11. 11. EasyJetCorporate Responsibility EasyJet strives to be efficient in the air... • Invests in fuel efficient airplanes and new technology & planes • Flies with more seats and higher load factor • Only flies point-to-point (no connecting flights) • Avoids busy airports & thus reduces taxi time EasyJet strives to be efficient on the ground... • Minimises turnaround time • Minimises ground equipment use (cabin crew clean the aircraft, catering only loads twice a day) • No cargo offering, no separate classes, only online check-in ...and aims to lead the move to more efficient flying • Politically involved in shaping the ETS • Actively pushes airplane manufacturers to build a new generation short-haul plane
    12. 12. Changing the modes of transportationSuggestions from International Energy Agency:• Move away from private transport – Less congestion, lowered emissions, increased livability• Better and less expensive electric vehicles – Hydrogen or Biofuels at a low cost – Electric vehicles as a standard where CO² level of producing electricity is low• Air travel growth must be reduced by 25% – More fuel efficient – Type of fuel must change
    13. 13. What travelers of airlines can do• Become aware of who you fly with• Fly direct• Fly economy• Use airlines which fill their airplanes• Bring little baggageThese measures mean a reduction in fuel usageand a lower per passenger CO² level.
    14. 14. The very best way to reduce the CO² is byreducing the dependency on air travel, and limiting it whenever possible
    15. 15. Conclusions• Shared feeling of responsibility• Follow rules and regulations• CO² emissions are lower on EasyJet• Burying CO² emissions under the sea bed (CCS) is potentially dangerous• Airline industry is a greenwasher
    16. 16. Conclusions for individuals• Calculate• Avoid• Reduce – Fly point-to-point – Bring less baggage – Choose airline with new planes• Offset
    17. 17. Thank you!