British Airways pledges to source sustainable aviation fuel for COP26 flights

British Airways (BA) has announced it will source sustainable aviation fuel to cover the requirements for all its flights between London, Glasgow and Edinburgh during the upcoming COP26 climate conference.

The COP26 conference, set to take place in November this year, will be the most significant gathering of world leaders to discuss how to tackle climate change since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015.

Sustainable aviation fuels are typically derived by combining jet fuel with alternatives such as bio-fuels or recycled oils from industrial food facilities. BA said that the fuel it intends to use provides a lifecycle carbon reduction of up to 80 per cent compared to traditional jet fuel.

BA has also announced a programme allowing its customers to purchase sustainable aviation fuel to help reduce their personal carbon footprint via its not-for-profit organisation Pure Leapfrog. This is in addition to the existing option for customers to offset their emissions.

Airlines, alongside fossil fuel firms, have been keen to push customers into taking responsibility for their carbon footprint as their own industries struggle to develop convincing strategies to reach net zero.

BA said it would invest £290m over the next 20 years into further development of sustainable fuels, including partnerships with a number of technology and fuel companies such as Velocys in the UK and LanzaJet in the US. However, BA currently only plans to use sustainable fuels for 10 per cent of its overall consumption by 2030.

The airline has also partnered with Airbus to paint one of its most fuel-efficient planes, an A320neo, in blue to promote the initiative.

British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle said: “We’re clear that we have a responsibility to reduce our impact on the planet and have a detailed plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, including investing in more fuel-efficient aircraft, improving our operational efficiency and investing in the development of sustainable aviation fuel and zero emissions aircraft.

“This commitment for COP26 is in addition to the mandatory carbon trading we already operate in the UK and our own further voluntary carbon offsetting of our UK domestic flights.”

BA’s commitment comes as more than 50 leaders from the international climate and development community called for world leaders to prioritise “adaptation” to climate change.

At a Rotterdam meeting convened by the Global Centre on Adaptation, they said COP26 will determine whether, for the first time, climate adaptation is elevated to an equal priority with the mitigation of carbon emissions.

This includes taking measures such as building higher flood defences, to growing more drought-tolerant crops and relocating coastal communities.

The Rotterdam meeting was attended by notable figures including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa and International Monetary Fund (IMF) head Kristalina Georgieva.

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