The biggest challenge to our sector is the negative impact of carbon emissions. Aviation is central to the climate change debate as it is one of the fastest growing contributors of greenhouse gases and is forecast to continue growing for the next 30 years. The aviation industry recognises its environmental impacts and it is working to minimise these while maintaining and enhancing the benefits it can bring to economies and societies.
We believe global travel makes a positive contribution to the world. Flying is crucial to the global economy and central to many people's lifestyles - it links families, communities and businesses, resulting in vibrant and successful cultures and economies. Although there is no 100% sustainable aeroplane right now, we can contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle by helping to work towards an accessible and strong global economy through profitable and low carbon aviation.
Our companies' approach
- They are pushing the industry forward as although the Virgin airlines represent a small part of the aviation industry they have a high profile and a loud voice, which they will continue to use. For example they support the call for a global carbon cap trade scheme. Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia are also both members of the Aviation Global Deal Group.
- They are exploring a range of ways to improve efficiencies through young fuel efficient aircraft, regulating cruising speeds to reduce fuel burn, reducing noise output (they also offer Gold Standard carbon offsetting).
- They are championing the development of sustainable aviation fuels based on second-generation biofuels harvested from sustainable sources to reduce the sector reliance on oil and to reduce its carbon footprint. Virgin Atlantic was the first commercial airline to use a low carbon fuel in a demonstration flight and both Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia are working with partners to further develop sustainable low carbon aviation fuels.
- They support communities within the destinations they travel to or work with and invest in community projects.
- Virgin Atlantic has set a target of reducing the carbon emitted per passenger kilometre by 30% between 2007 and 2020. It has also partnered with LanzaTech and Swedish Biofuels on a breakthrough low carbon aviation fuel, made from waste gases from steel works that has just half the carbon footprint kerosene.
- Virgin America’s existing fleet is up to 25% more fuel efficient than other domestic fleets and it has ordered some efficient aircraft and engines which will make a further 15% improved fuel efficiency. It was also the first commercial passenger airline to join the US Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Leaders programme.
- We have produced a paper "Aviation in a Low Carbon World" which outlines our thoughts on the subject.
- Each year Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Unite and Virgin Holidays, along with the support of their passengers and staff, collectively invest millions of pounds in community projects within the destinations they travel to and work in.
Aviation represents by far the biggest environmental impact of all the Virgin businesses. We won't hide from the difficult arguments surrounding aviation and the environment. In fact, our airlines want to be right at their heart, pushing the industry, their suppliers and the regulators to be bolder and to help make flying a more sustainable way to travel.
To find out more information on what we are doing, click here
To view Virgin Atlantic's website Change Is In The Air, click here
To view Virgin Australia's Sustainability website, click here
To view Virgin America's Environmental Sustainability website, click here
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