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Carbon footprint reduction
KLM works with a Carbon Reduction Roadmap to reduce its carbon footprint. This plan means we can focus on the solutions that are available today, while keeping abreast of developments in the sustainable aviation fuels of the future.
Aviation is responsible for 2% to 3% of global, man-made, CO2 emissions. The level of growth currently forecast for aviation will increase its environmental impact. In 2007, KLM drew up a policy to reduce the environmental impact of its own operations. The current goal is to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% per passenger in 2020 (compared to 2011). We are well on track; by the end of 2017 we had reduced our carbon emissions by 16%. KLM also aims to reduce the CO2 emissions of its ground operation by 20% in 2020 (compared to 2011). Our Carbon Reduction Roadmap contributes to one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), namely, SDG 13 - Climate Action.
KLM has identified three ways to reduce the carbon footprint of its flight operation: reduce fuel consumption, replace fossil fuel, and compensate for CO2 emissions. Each entails a different approach. Increasing the sustainability of the ground operation is a fourth way in which KLM can reduce its carbon footprint.
1. Reduce fuel consumption
- Fleet renewal
Fleet renewal contributes most to reducing emissions. New aircraft are more fuel-efficient and consequently emit less CO2. The Fokker 70 has been replaced by the Embraer 175+ and Embraer 190, and the Boeing 747 will be replaced by the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. The new aircraft and the measures KLM is adopting for efficient flight operations together deliver fuel savings of between 35% and 40%.
- Operational efficiency
KLM is implementing a range of operational measures. We are reducing aircraft weight, making more optimal use of the airspace, and are training our pilots to use the most fuel-efficient procedures. Safety, of course, always takes priority. Examples of on-board weight-reduction measures include lighter cargo nets and catering trolleys, the replacement of newspapers with a KLM Media App, and iPads for crew documents.
- Air traffic management
KLM supports the idea of a common European airspace, which would open up more efficient flight paths. Being able to fly directly from A to B without detours could reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 10% across Europe.
2. Replacing fossil fuels
- Alternative fuels
Sustainable biojet fuel can make an important contribution in the medium-to-long term. This fuel can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80%, compared to fossil fuels. KLM’s partners in its Corporate BioFuel Programme enable KLM to bridge the price difference between fossil fuel and sustainable bio-kerosene. KLM only uses bio-kerosene made from waste oils, or raw materials that do not impact on biodiversity and food production. (see biojet fuel)
- Alternative transport
KLM is a supporter of sustainable alternative modes of transport for short distances. Rail is a good alternative for many European destinations, like Brussels, London, or Paris. However, a robust infrastructure is vital for quick and efficient transportation.
3. Offsetting CO2 emissions
- EU ETS and CORSIA
KLM is part of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), which regulates CO2 compensation and CO2 emissions allowances in Europe. KLM also falls under the global aviation treaty CORSIA. This treaty aims to achieve carbon-neutral growth in the global aviation industry from 2020.
Passengers can compensate for their share of the carbon emitted by their flights through KLM’s compensation service CO2ZERO. Passengers’ contributions to CO2ZERO are invested in Gold Standard for the Global Goals certified projects (see CO2ZERO).
4. Sustainable Ground Operation
- Renewable energy and electrification
KLM also strives to minimise the impact of its ground processes on the environment. We aim to reduce CO2 emissions on the ground by 20% in 2020 (compared to 2011). We will do this by being more energy-efficient, electrifying as much ground equipment as possible, finding alternatives for fossil gas and, wherever possible, transitioning to renewable energy. We had already achieved a reduction of 17% by the end of 2017 (compared to 2011).
An important advantage of moving to electric ground transport equipment, such as baggage carousels, trailers and loaders, is that they do not produce emissions locally. Moreover, electric transportation equipment at Schiphol uses green electricity. This contributes to a cleaner environment and better working conditions at the airport.
Electric ground equipment
By replacing diesel vehicles with electric alternatives, like the new electric Lower Deck Loaders (for loading cargo and containers) we will significantly reduce the fuel consumption and local emissions. Because electricity at Schiphol is generated sustainably, we expect to reduce our CO2 emissions on the ground by another 22% over the next two years. KLM is the first airline in the world to replace this equipment on such a large scale.