Plucking out carbon from the atmosphere is expensive. It's all about scale, and if Airbus and some of the world's biggest airlines can't do it, there may be doubts over the aviation sector’s ambitious bid to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
European airplane manufacturer Airbus and more than a half dozen airlines said on Monday they had signed letters of intent to discuss buying carbon removal credits to offset the emissions from air travel.
Airbus joined by Air Canada, Air France-KLM, EasyJet, International Airlines Group, LATAM Airlines Group, Lufthansa Group and Virgin Atlantic have committed to engage in “negotiations on the possible pre-purchase of verified and durable carbon removal credits starting in 2025.”
The carbon removal credits will be issued by Airbus’ partner 1PointFive — a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum Corp Low Carbon Ventures business, which plans to build a direct air carbon capture and storage facility in Texas for carbon removal that will be able to remove up to 1 million tons of C02. Construction is expected to begin toward the end of this year and be running by 2024, said Steve Kelly, who heads 1PointFive.
Airbus’ partnership with 1PointFive includes pre-purchasing 400,000 tons of carbon removal credits over a four-year period, the companies said.
“These first letters of intent mark a concrete step towards the use of this promising technology for both Airbus’ own decarbonization plan and the aviation sector’s ambition to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” Airbus’ Julie Kitcher said.
The airline industry, responsible for nearly 3 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, faces significant challenges in meeting ambitious goals to cut emissions. Airline officials argue that carbon capture can be one part of a multi-pronged strategy to cut emissions.
In 2020, United Airlines said it agreed to a multimillion-dollar investment in a project to built a U.S. industrial-sized direct air capture plant with 1PointFive.
The technology has yet to be proven up to scale. And it’s expensive, costing hundreds of dollars to capture just one ton of CO2. Several previous carbon capture and storage efforts have failed.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Bernadette Baum)
Photo credit: Airbus and Air France-KLM, among other airlines, have committed to engage in “negotiations on the possible pre-purchase of verified and durable carbon removal credits starting in 2025." Olivier CABARET / Flickr