Last week, Sarah Wilkin, founder of Fly Green Alliance (FGA) and Business Developer for Jet Fuel from Waste was invited to present at an event held at the Expedia office in London discussing sustainability in the travel sector.
FGA presented the research work of the University of Amsterdam which turns waste into aviation fuel and discussed that FGA was set up due to the need to raise awareness about the possibilities of flying green.
The event hosted by The British Association and Traveldoo created a sense of urgency and was set up as a forum to discuss how decarbonisation in the sector is possible through smart collaborations and a deeper understanding of the task at hand.
Flying was certainly on the agenda at the event, with one panel dedicated to whether airlines can achieve net zero by 2050. Lufthansa, easyJet and FGA were asked questions, by Clive Warren of The British Travel Association, on technology, investment and about the need to fly less?
It was acknowledged that the aviation industry states: fleet update, more efficient air traffic management and sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) as being the 3 main decarbonisation factors in the short to medium term.
easyJet and Lufthansa stating that SAF is too expensive for them to purchase right now, that aviation is a very price sensitive sector but they are open to this in the future once the price is lower. Lufthansa having a programme in place which does allow customers to purchase SAF for their flights.
FGA mentioning that the work they are doing is with a view to bringing the price of SAF down but there will be conscious customers and an audience willing to pay more to fly sustainably in the future.
FGA are building awareness for the industry and specifically for research projects that do reduce emissions in the sector. They will be part of the line up at the next CACTUS meeting, a group set up for climate action in the corporate traveller group, and will be held at the Microsoft office in London 28th February.
There was big a realisation at the event that there is much work to decarbonise and that those in attendance wanted to be part of this.
This week it was announced that Prince Harry has launched a sustainable travel initiative called Travalyst with Booking.com, Visa, Skyscanner and TripAdvisor.
This is good news for the sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), as SkyNRG’s Managing Director joined the panel this week at the Booking.com office in Amsterdam and discussed SAF as part of future commitments to decarbonise the sector .
We hope to see further sustainable aviation fuel projects, investment and public affairs work progress from this announcement and are interested in seeing what happens next.
It’s great news for sustainable travel and we hope the awareness will have an influence on future business travel policies and sustainability commitments. This is something that is being worked on by the Fly Green Alliance which has evolved from the Jet Fuel from Waste project.
Having been working on gaining investment for Jet Fuel from Waste we have come to realise that not all investors, even those working within sustainability investing have sustainable aviation fuel on their agendas. We have spoken to many large institutions and grant programmes and the usual answers is that is not in scope right now or not part of the portfolio for this period.
With emissions reduction targets that are currently not on track, this being mentioned at the ‘The role of low carbon fuels in achieving the Paris agreement‘ at Sustainability Week, at the European Commission: 18th June, how do we expect to fulfil these when the finance is not necessarily there to scale up technology that is ready and available? As well as supporting new tech to continue to evolve.
We attend ‘All about Impactful Investing’ at King’s College, London, in January. The programme discussed fund management, wealth investors, impact reporting, aligning investments with SDGs and more. It was evident at this event that there is a turn around in thinking. As consumer behaviour changes businesses realise that they won’t cut it in the future if they don’t have sustainability through and through and not just a nod to it. It needs to be a pillar of the business strategy and no longer CSR.
In literal terms the capital needs to move, confidence needs to increase and more risk taking in this area needs to happen. Marko Janhunen of UPM mentioned policy uncertainly was a major factor in the fact that of funding wasn’t moving quick enough.
Clariant, a world leader in chemicals, mentioned at the same meeting that they had just invested €100 million in a bio based plant in Romania which shows leadership in decarbonising the future of the industry. Another company is GF Biochemicals who have been operating in the biochemical industry since 2008 and are pioneers in the shift to bio. Will we see others follow soon?
There was talk that €20 billion per year up to 2050 was needed in investment to reach the EU targets which is not on track.
It was noted this week that, Robeco, Dutch sustainable investment group, currently has a job opening for a biofuel analyst which is encouraging and does demonstrate understanding that the market needs to be assessed and monitored so reports can be presented to investors looking to the future of the bio based industry.
Bodies such as http://biofutureplatform.org and https://www.irena.org/ presented at the meeting at the Commission and explained about working towards scaling up the industry and the energy transition but again the International Energy Agency figures showed transport and some other sectors are lagging behind which was discussed by Paolo Franki in Brusssel’s this week, so still a way to go. Pharoah Le Feuvre of IEA recently sumed up the state of play in the sustainable jet fuel world and explains some of the drivers needed in the article he wrote in March this year.
The meeting was well attended and created an important discussion that needs to be had many more times until we see further policy change to support the production and emission reduction targets.
Boeing hosted an event, 6th June 2019, at their Brussels office. Guests included the European Commission, Politico, KLM, IATA, Aviation Weekly, airline associations and public affair consultancies.
There was much discussion from industry specialists who gave their informed thinking on ‘Fuelling the future of Flight’ through sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
Sean Newsum of Boeing mentioning he thinks any move towards more sustainable flying will be caused by technology over lifestyle changes.
Faustine Delasalle mentioning that macro economic will come in to play in time and that purchasing of SAF fuelled flights should be led by B2B customers who can financially take some increases in tickets prices in the interim, while SAF is 2-3 times more expensive than fossil.
Robert Boyd let us know there have been SAF 183,000 to date and discussed that is took 15 years to create the CORSIA agreement, a global commitment by airlines to decarbonise by 50% on 2005 levels by 2050.
It was discussed that punitive (green) taxes were not favourable, Cesar Velarde of ICAO also previously mentioning this at the Sustainable Energy Week in Brussels, 18th June.
Circular Economy Consulting brought up the fact that when speaking to investors, even to those investing in impactful investments, there was little knowledge of sustainable aviation fuel as a future investment opportunity, so perhaps more awareness raising events could be created to encourage knowledge sharing and market steer.
It was discussed that forward purchasing of biofuel by airlines, which is being done by Cathay Pacific and others, will secure funding for the building of plants in the future and demonstrate demand.
Questions raised: can we create the market for SAF? Which airlines will be the first to make the move to green flights? Pete Harrison of the European Climate Foundation mentioned flying on SAF would add €20/30 per person to European flights and €50 to transatlantic flights. Maybe this is one commitment as individuals we need to make? This is a hard sell to customers, but do we need to face up to this fact?
Emissions have reduced by 2% annually, through fleet renewal and air traffic management efficiencies, but if we want to protect travel for the future then we need a collaborative approach, policy support and incentives to get the sector moving and get to a the tipping point on this, wanted and needed innovation in air travel.
An excellent event which stimulated conversation and brought together experts to exchange ideas on how to solve this global challenge.
Panel: Vanessa Butani – Scandic Hotels, Brendan Burns – European Economic Social Committee, Sarah Wilkin – Jet Fuel from Waste. Moderated by Roland Moore – BCW.
Yes it can, but firstly can we define tourism as a sector? This was the point of Brendan Burns, member of the European Economic Social Committee. It’s hard to put figures and targets to and make policies on a sector that covers so many different services and is hard to define. So how do we start to discuss such a topic?
We started by presenting how we all interpreted being circular in our own projects and roles, and our moderator, Roland Moore, set the scene by letting us know that tourism is one of the fastest growing industries and contributes 10% to GDP and tied our discussion together well with some excellent points and posing some thought provoking questions.
Jet Fuel from Waste’s way of being circular is by looking into how businesses are handling waste within tourism and seeing if this can be recycled into biofuel to decarbonise air travel. Vanessa discussed how Scandic Hotels are handling food, as one example, and how Scandic led the ‘hang up your towel‘ campaign . Brendan brought up how the experience should be one that inspires behaviours and Roland mentioned that on holiday we are generally feeling more open and so this is a time we are receptive to new ideas so encouraging new behaviours on vacation could be a good way to embed more sustainable thinking in our daily lives. Brendan encouraged this idea and thought including the customer was key and that being more transparent about operations and sustainable practices and perhaps some of the nitty gritty is not a bad thing.
Also if we are thinking about defining tourism then what is the difference between being a local and being a tourist? We all consume, waste, do, experience things…. so this then brings the point up of whether tourism can be circular, yes it can, if we can be circular in our daily lives then we can be while being a tourist also. So the task seems to be how do we apply the circular economy (CE) principles to an all encompassing sector?
UNWTO let us know that they have set up a working group which is looking into how to define the role of CE in tourism and have started a series of webinars which can be found online. They have started to discuss the topic choosing to look into buildings and construction, food waste and mobility (transport) as a start and they want to involve a wider group to make some agreements on how to move forward with a circular approach in tourism. This is ongoing work which we are happy to be part of going forward.
Going back to thinking about being a tourist, as we holiday, we often want luxury which can lead to over indulgence but as Vanessa from Scandic said they give their guests smaller plates so they don’t overload, and design their buffets to nudge guests to make healthier choices to avoid piling up unneeded food , they have also removed the small disposable shampoo bottles in their hotels and replaced them with large dispensers which means they can improve the quality of the product they offer their customers. There are ways to maintain quality while reducing waste, plastic use and excess. Digitalisation, timers and sharing culture – all ways to think more efficiently too.
In the Netherlands the plan to decarbonise aviation is called Smart and Sustainable. This title does seem to sum things up quite well and as a few have mentioned recently, the term sustainability didn’t use to exist, it was called cost savings so as businesses look to be sustainable for environmental reasons they will by default sustain the business by saving money and future proofing themselves also. It has a double benefit, although the initial layout costs of the initiatives could be the offputting-factor. One of the challenges.
Cafe de Ceuvel in Amsterdam is a circular hub and office space which is energy self-sufficient and educates and inspire it’s customers with their practices to make them think about their behaviours at home too, so a good example of involving the customer in operations in a transparent way.
So, can the circular practices increase, can the impact be measured and costs savings added up? If they can then tourism can be circular and it will start happening more often. Market research already shows that if a business has a good sustainability rating then this pleases their customers and encourages loyalty but it has to be credible. Programmes such as Innovation Lighthouse are looking into different experiences they can give a customer in the hotel which encourages conscious behaviour changes which they can take away with them. There is a lot of new thinking in how we can travel sustainably in order to preserve communities, avoid over tourism and too much waste because we don’t want to stop travelling, we don’t want to shame but we do want to work toward the sustainability challenge.
In the same week we also attended Green Week and heard about the EU funded project TACKLE which has been initiated by the Institute of Management at Scuola Superiore Saint Anna and supported by UEFA. This looks into how circular principles can be applied to mega events, sport tourism and in football. The discussion was about green procurement and the team, Real Betis, who are promoting climate action on their kits to demonstrate that football as a business with a large audience is also contributing to SDG 13 on Climate Action. Patrick Gasser, Head of Social Responsibility, at UEFA also seconding this, saying all sustainable initiatives they work on should be working towards climate action firstly.
We look forward to being part of the discussion and to seeing how we can contribute to decarbonising the aviation sector, managing waste more efficiently, reducing emissions and becoming more circular, sustainable travellers.
This week we introduced a group of University of Leeds students studying Environmental and Sustainability Studies to Cafe de Ceuvel, an award winning energy self-sufficient circular initiative which has redeveloped an old shipping yard in North Amsterdam.
We want to work with universities and education institutes and be part of the future workforce gaining knowledge and ideas in order to push innovation and thought leadership further.
We are interested in what the circular economy symbolises and how it can demonstrate a smarter approach to resource and waste management, design and systems.
Our project looks to demonstrate that within tourism we can create a circular economy by turning waste from tourism and hospitality back into biofuel for flights which is one of the ways to decarbonise our travel and remove waste from landfill.
We were happy to share this experience with the group of interested students from Leeds Uni and their Associate Professor of Sustainability, Lucie Middlemiss.
Booking.com’s CEO, Gillan Tans, just announced on linkedin their committment to sustainable tourism through their Booking Cares programme which we are happy we are part of:
Our mission at Booking.com is to empower people to experience the world. But, for us, sustainable travel is key to doing so responsibly, and ensuring that all of us can continue to encounter destinations across the world that are still worth exploring.
Our definition of travelling sustainably involves tourism dispersal (spreading the fruits of tourism more widely and relieving some of the pressures of overtourism), environmental conservation and protection, inclusive travel, and cultural preservation and promotion. This year, through our Booking Cares initiative, our commitment to sustainable travel was bigger than ever. More from our Booking Cares annual update here.
We are listed in the Booking Cares annual report which can be found here.
We had a strategy and branding day with our friends at Lab Rooms which myself, Dr Raveendran of University of Amsterdam and Ornella Cosomati, our public affairs and sustainability adviser, attended. We all put our heads together with the support of the Lab Rooms design team and strategists to think about what branded look we should go for and what our messaging should be.
We have not found our final name yet but feel that our research project should be named Jet Fuel from Waste until we find the right fit.
I attended All about Impactful Investing at King’s College London, where City leaders in investment funds discussed how impact reporting was becoming a developing skill, even discussing how the intangible was becoming a value, Trucost was discussing Total Value Analysis and that now funds are often tied to individual SDGs.
Thomas Schafbauer from Arabesque mentioned investments are changing to align with investors values rather than ROI, so a social return on investment. Strong indicator that the way we do business is changing and brands need to develop sustainability as part of strategic or financial pillars and should develop their narrative to build trust, green washing has taken this away and so genuine demonstratable comms need to show that what they are doing is not just CSR policy. It was very interesting to hear what is happening in the City right now.