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LONDON: March 10, 2019. None of the 20 largest listed airlines on the FTSE/Russell index clearly specifies how they will reduce CO2 emissions after 2025 while all their long-term targets fall short of the Paris Climate Agreement 2.0 percent emissions’ goal.

The claim is based on new research from the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) at the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute that is backed by over US$13 trillion in assets under management.

The airline sector makes a significant and fast-growing contribution to climate change - currently accounting for 2.0 percent of global CO2 emissions and 12 percent of transport-related CO2.

The TPI is a global initiative led by asset owners and supported by asset managers that determines companies’ preparedness for the transition to a low-carbon economy.

TPI airlines rankedAccording to TPI data (pictured), Delta, United, Lufthansa and ANA Group are the leaders on carbon management. Easyjet is the only airline with a CO2 emissions intensity of flights below the 2C benchmarks after 2020, and ANA Group, Japan Airlines, Korean Air and Singapore Airlines have the highest emissions intensities.

Ryanair is not part of the TPI benchmark as it is below the minimum percentage of shares available to foreign investors required for inclusion in the FTSE Russell index.

While many airlines have formally adopted targets to reduce their net emissions via the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s CORSIA initiative, the approach relies on voluntary action until 2027 and the TPI says it is unclear how much these airlines plan to reduce their own flight emissions.

TPI used a large set of indicators to judge climate change management by the 20 airlines and found six out of 20 fall in levels one and two, while ten out of 20 companies are in the top two tiers. The average score for the sector is 2.4, which is lower than both the automotive and electricity sectors says TPI.

The organisation notes that since its latest audit that placed Wizz Air in the bottom “unaware” category, the airline has disclosed a “very low emissions intensity of flight operations” and therefore its current position may not be accurate.

“Investors have a clear message to the aviation sector: When it comes to carbon performance they must be in it for the long haul,” commented Faith Ward, TPI co-chair on behalf of the Environment Agency Pension Fund. “That means setting stretching emissions reduction targets to 2030 and beyond, and ending a reliance on offsetting. It’s clear from TPI’s research that this is not currently the case.

“Offsetting is no substitute for a clear strategy to reduce emissions, and the International Energy Agency’s carbon budget for air transport excludes the use of offsets. The aviation sector is doing the basics when it comes to carbon performance, but investors are urging them to take more significant steps as they judge which airlines are most likely to survive the turbulence of the transition to a low carbon economy. “


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