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Scoping voluntary corporate climate action in the European aviation sector

The beyond value chain mitigation (BCVM) approaches for eight European airlines, which were collectively responsible for over half of the total CO2e emissions of the aviation sector in the EU in 2019, were assessed in this study to provide insights with regards to both the extent and quality of efforts, beyond the value chain, to mitigate the negative environmental impacts associated with air travel.

Main findings

Firstly, the assessment shows that the average estimated price for the carbon credits purchased is varied but are still all well below the cost of abatement in the aviation sector.

The second main conclusion from the assessment that carbon credits are not a homogenous product.

Thirdly, the assessment was hindered by a lack of transparency in the reporting of the BCVM approaches adopted by the airline operators under consideration in this study.

Fourthly, the assessment shows that the volume of carbon credits purchased is strongly influenced by the degree to which the airline’s emissions are offset.

Next to these findings, it should be noted that voluntary use of carbon credits to offset the emissions of the aviation sector may suggest to customers that it is possible to fly in a ‘carbon neutral’ manner which could lead to an increase in passenger air traffic at exactly the time when the scientific community is urging us all to fly less.

This report was prepared by Öko-Institut for Carbon Market Watch.

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