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Cathay Pacific and Dragonair become first airlines in Asia to launch carbon offset scheme

19 Dec 2007

Cathay Pacific Airways and its sister airline Dragonair today launched “FLY greener”, a new voluntary carbon offset scheme that will give passengers the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint by offsetting the carbon emissions attributable to their journey.

This is the first time for any Asian airline to introduce a carbon offset scheme, and also the first time for a  scheme directly managed by an airline itself to offer passengers the option of using cash or frequent flyer miles – in this case Asia Miles – to pay for their offsets.

“FLY greener” is an extension of an in-house programme that offsets the carbon emissions associated with staff travelling on business for either Cathay Pacific or Dragonair. Within the space of the year the in-house programme has already raised nearly HK$1 million that will be used to buy offsets. To further highlight its commitment to the new offset scheme, Cathay Pacific and Dragonair will match the contributions of their passengers dollar for dollar for the first three months of the programme.

To offset their travel, passengers can access the “FLY greener” site at the Cathay Pacific or Dragonair websites and use the online calculator to work how much it will cost to offset their emissions based on the distance of their flight and the class of travel. Flight emissions are calculated using fuel use data from the Cathay Pacific and Dragonair passenger aircraft fleets.

Passengers can buy as many offsets as they like including for previous journeys on either Cathay Pacific or Dragonair. In all cases the voluntary payment will represent only a fraction of the ticket price.

Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Tony Tyler said: “Climate change is a huge issue that needs to be addressed with some urgency. It is vital we show that we are a responsible airline that is committed to being part of the solution to the problem of greenhouse gas emissions generated by the aviation industry. While aviation accounts for only 2% of global man-made carbon emissions, we support the industry’s commitment to dramatically reduce emissions.
“We are excited to be the first airline in Asia to launch a carbon offset scheme that will make a positive contribution to tackling the very serious environmental problems we face in this region. This is just one of a series of environmental initiatives from the Cathay Pacific Group and we remain committed to working to reduce our own impact on the environment as well as working with groups such as IATA on industry-wide initiatives.”

The carbon offsets will initially be sourced from a wind farm project in Shanghai – one of the first to employ high-capacity turbines in Mainland China. The wind farm’s production of clean energy reduces the demand for coal-fired power stations in the region and helps to reduce pollution. The power generated by the turbines at this wind farm is fed into the Shanghai power grid without producing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide or other pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and particulates. The wind farm facility also provides job opportunities for the local community. 

The new Cathay Pacific/Dragonair carbon offset scheme has been made as simple and transparent as possible, and passengers who choose to show their concern for the environment can see where their contributions are going by reading about the current and planned projects on the “FLY greener” website: www.cathaypacific.com/ flygreener or www.dragonair.com/flygreener.


Fact Sheet

Shanghai (Chongming and Nanhui) Windfarm

It is estimated that two large coal-fired power stations are built in the Chinese Mainland every week to meet the country’s ever-growing demand for power.

At the same time, the Mainland has set a target of generating 15% of its total energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.

Meeting this ambitious goal will require substantial investment in renewable energy sources.  Some of the necessary investment is being driven by an increasing demand for carbon credits from companies and individuals wishing to offset their carbon footprint.

Cathay Pacific’s first project as part of its FLY greener carbon offset programme is the retirement of credits generated by a wind farm project near Shanghai.  The power generated by the high-capacity turbines at this wind farm is being fed into the Shanghai power grid.

There are many benefits to wind farms. Unlike traditional coal-fired power stations, they don’t produce the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the process of producing energy. Nor do they produce the array of other pollutants that coal-burning does, such as nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, particulates, and mercury.

The installation of this wind farm facility provides job opportunities for the local community.  It also helps to promote the application of advanced wind power technologies in eastern China, contributing to China’s sustainable economic development.

The sustainable development contributions and objectives of the project include:

- creating local jobs during construction and procuring local materials;
- creating 36 permanent jobs;
- improving the local power transmission infrastructure, and hence the reliability of the local power supply; and
- establishing a Wind Energy Education Centre.

The voluntary emissions reductions generated from the wind farm, which Cathay Pacific will pay to retire through its own contributions as well as contributions from its passengers, have been verified in accordance with the Voluntary Carbon Standard. (link to http://www.v-c-s.org )