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Mitigating the impacts of climate change remains one of our greatest environmental challenges as a business. We are dedicated to delivering on our commitments to carbon-neutral growth by continuously improving the sustainability of our flight operations, and continuing to call for a global industry agreement on climate change.

Emissions from our flights form the largest carbon footprint of our business' operations.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA), aviation currently accounts for 2% of global man-made emissions.

Yet, the IPCC has forecasted that by 2050 this could rise to 3%. While the forecast emissions for 2050 can vary significantly, it does highlight the challenge that the aviation industry faces in the next 40 years. Substantial reductions in global carbon emissions are urgently required to mitigate the impacts of climate change.


At the core of our Sustainable Development Strategy is our commitment to manage our carbon emissions and contribute to global efforts to reducing aviation's overall impact on the environment and climate change.

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon fully support the climate change targets launched by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in 2009. To achieve these targets, we align with IATA’s four-pillar strategy which revolves around technology investments, efficient infrastructure, effective operations and positive economic measures.


Our Approach in The Air

Based on the IATA strategy, we have developed a structured approach towards addressing climate change in the air around three key principles:

  • Maximizing fuel efficiency and reducing fuel wastage through fleet modernization, technical improvements to existing fleet, stringent weight management and the implementation of operational efficiency drives
  • Addressing inefficiencies of air traffic management through collaboration and by supporting industry lobbying efforts
  • Acknowledging the role of economic instruments such as emissions trading (to view our position on the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme).

We also enable Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon customers - both corporate and individual passengers - offset the carbon dioxide (CO2) generated from their air travel in a credible and simple way through the  FLY greener programme. We continue to contribute by offsetting our own share of emissions from our employees' business travel.

While the majority of our emissions are related to what we do in the air, we are also committed to reducing our emissions on the ground – at our head office, our airport infrastructure and outports, and across the operations of our subsidiaries.

  • In December 2010, along with nearly 40 other Hong Kong International Airport business partners, Cathay Pacific joined the Hong Kong Airport Authority's Carbon Reduction Campaign to reduce the airport's carbon emissions collectively by 25% per workload unit by 2015 compared to 2008 levels.
  • We monitor usage and implement measures to improve energy efficiency and reduce demand at our headquarters Cathay Pacific City and Cathay Dragon House.
  • Several energy efficiency measures have been integrated into the design of our new cargo terminal currently under construction in Hong Kong. Our case study is included in the Sustainable Development Report for 2011.
  • We also work closely with our subsidiaries to identify and leverage emission reduction opportunities such as using renewable energies, trialling more energy-efficient equipment and expanding the use of electric vehicles.


To achieve our carbon reduction targets, we are also focusing our efforts on two areas: new technologies and biofuels.

Our ongoing fleet modernisation programme - purchasing the most fuel efficient aircraft that is appropriate for our operations - is one of the most significant ways that an airline can reduce its environmental impact. Aircrafts are 75 % more fuel efficient now than those in the 1960s.

Alternative fuels, particularly sustainable biofuels, are another key element in helping us achieve our carbon reduction targets. In 2011, we developed our sustainable aviation biofuels strategy which includes the following approaches:

However, even with our dependence on technological advancements, we are also reliant on the work of governments and regulators to ensure that we are allowed to fly the most efficient routes and operate in the most efficient manner during take-off and landing. 

Our Progress So Far

To learn more about our progress, our emissions footprint as well as business risks and opportunities we face in relation to climate change, please read our annual Sustainable Development Reports

For Further Reading...