Air Canada has detailed plans to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The plan includes a waypoint of a 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas (GGH) net reduction from flights by 2030, and a 30 per cent GHG net reductions from ground operations compared to 2019 baseline.

The plan includes an investment of $50 Million in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and carbon reductions and removals around fleet and operations and technology

The airline says it will continue deploying its “newly modernized and energy efficient” Airbus A220 and Boeing 737 MAX narrow-body fleets. The airline says that the aircraft are more efficient and expected to average approximately 20 per cent less fuel consumption per seat and emit approximately 20 per cent less CO2 and 50 per cent less nitrogen oxides than aircraft they replace.

The airline will also “continue to integrate climate factors in route and fleet planning, phase out carbon-intensive ground equipment, further advance electric vehicles and seek other electrification opportunities”.

In terms of innovation the airline will continue to “further evaluate the viability, safety and performance of new electric, hydrogen or hybrid operational technologies, and other innovations such as short-haul transportation opportunities and electric drones to complement and support Air Canada’s global business network.”

Like many airlines, it will also “explore carbon negative emission technologies and other direct emission reduction and removal strategies in addition to further developing its carbon offset strategy for CORSIA compliance, customer offerings and more.”

What is CORSIA?

Finally, Air Canada will invest $50 Million in SAF and other low carbon aviation fuel (LCAF) development, evaluate the practical applications of renewable energy sources such as biogas and renewable electricity, and energy transition measures.

“Economic growth and sustainability are equally important, and we have a strong track record for both. Despite the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain deeply committed to long-term sustainability. Climate change is critical, and we believe we can and must do more to address this for the future of our environment. This is why we are further embedding climate considerations into our strategic decision-making, and undertaking a very ambitious plan that is meaningful, will support Canada’s leadership position on climate change, advance de-carbonization in the airline industry while keeping fares affordable for customers,” said Michael Rousseau, President and Chief Executive Officer at Air Canada.

Air Canada currently reports its carbon footprint, targets and climate protection strategy through the CDP and will also report through the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (“TCFD”) framework from 2022.

The airline has improved fuel efficiency by 43 per cent since 1990 and from 2016 to 2019, “reduced more than 135,000 tonnes of GHG from its air operations through fuel efficiency initiatives”

Other highlights include:

  • Participating in eight biofuel flights with ongoing, active support for the development of SAF in Canada including working with the Government of Canada on policy development to support a Canadian-based sustainable aviation fuel industry.
  • Lead airline on Canada’s Biojet Supply Chain Initiative (CBSCI), a project to identify and solve supply logistic barriers that arise when aviation biofuels are introduced at major Canadian airports.
  • Contributing to the Civil Aviation Alternate Fuel Contrail and Emissions Research project (CAAFCER) to test the environmental benefits of biofuel use on contrail formation, benefiting all aviation stakeholders and climate science researchers.
  • Implementing a technologically advanced livery paint and painting process resulting in significant weight and fuel savings, with no chrome, lead or other heavy metals and is expected to last longer when compared to standard paint.
  • Operational improvements realized through more than 100 projects to optimize fuel consumption, including  profile departure, RNPAR (a type of performance-based navigation), single engine taxiing to aircraft weight reduction such as the use of lightweight crew luggage, iPads for pilots replacing paper manuals and lighter weight composite onboard carts.

The airline has also offered a carbon offset programme which, since 2007, has resulted in more than 60,000 tC02e of emissions offset.

Air Canada’s Corporate Sustainability Report is available for download at the following link Citizens of the World.