Etihad Sets Zero Net Carbon Emission Goal By 2050

Etihad Airways has joined the campaign for the environment by pledging to achieve zero net carbon emissions by 2050. Within the next 30 years, the airline hopes to have balanced its carbon emissions with projects that take the same amount of CO2 out of the atmosphere as it produces. This includes carbon offsetting alongside employing more fuel-efficient aircraft and investment in new technologies.

Etihad, 787 Dreamliner
Etihad aims to be carbon neutral by 2050. It’s already invested in new aircraft. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons

Promises to deliver a cleaner operation

Earlier this week, Etihad operated an eco-flight to Brussels in celebration of Sustainability Week in Abu Dhabi. This is just one of the initiatives that demonstrate Etihad’s green thinking when it comes to cleaning up the aviation industry. Just two days after its eco-flight, the airline announced that it had plans to achieve net carbon neutrality by 2050.

What’s more, the Middle Eastern air carrier also promised another impressive feat. It said that, by 2035, it would halve its net carbon emissions produced in 2019. That means that, in 15 years, Etihad Airways will operate on just 50% of the carbon budget it used last year.

These two are big commitments that require a lot of action. So how will Etihad hit these impressive targets?

Paving the way for success

When it comes to creating solutions for a more environmentally-friendly operation, Etihad has a number of ideas. It says that for the aviation industry to achieve its carbon emission goals, all areas need to work together. And this is a solution that the airline has adopted itself.

In a press release from 15th January 2020, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Aviation Group said:

“The global focus on the environment and the urgency of reducing carbon emissions has never been greater. Etihad Aviation Group, together with its partners, is taking an active role in reducing the impact of aviation on the environment through initiatives ranging from optimized fuel management to sustainable financing practices.”

The truth is that Etihad has already started making some of those changes to its operations in order to facilitate its goals. It is steadily moving towards a more fuel-efficient fleet, for example. In 2018, Etihad retired its Boeing 777-200 aircraft for more eco-friendly options. The five aircraft were removed and swapped for Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

Etihad Airways 777-200
Etihad has made aircraft changing like retiring its 777-200 aircraft. Photo: James via Flickr

But, like all of the aviation industry, it still has a long way to go. Etihad is yet to introduce carbon offsetting, a practice gaining popularity within the airline world, nor has it invested in biofuel. However, there is another facet to Etihad’s development which might make the environmental advancements a little bit more challenging.

Growth vs the environment

Despite the interest that Etihad has in delivering an environmentally conscious operation, it also is interested in growth. The airline recently announced preliminary schedules for the LCC Air Arabia partnership that should launch new routes in March 2020. How does this network expansion fit into Etihad’s plan?

Air Arabia A320
Where does Air Arabia fit into Etihad’s plan? Photo: J. Patrick Fischer via Wikimedia Commons

Etihad’s venture into developing its low-cost carrier will see the inauguration of 11 new flights starting in two months’ time. The airline will likely be using the Airbus A320, a fuel-conscious model of aircraft but not as efficient as the A320neo. We contacted Etihad to understand where this new airline fits into its plans for net carbon emissions but it was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

That said, there are many advancements that should hit the aviation industry within the coming years before 2050, so it’s feasible that a lot will change within that time. If that’s so and Etihad draws on all its resources, it is likely that the airline will be able to make good headway to achieving its carbon-neutral goals.

What do you think? Will Etihad achieve carbon neutrality by 2050? Let us know your thoughts below!