Air New Zealand’s long anticipated move to provide passengers options to mitigate their carbon footprints on flights was launched by the carrier and Prime Minister Helen Clark on two fronts today.
Passengers will be able to buy emission reduction units on Air New Zealand’s website secured from TrustPower’s Tararua wind farm and they can also make donations to an environmental charitable trust.
The airline kick started the trust underwriting it up to $450,000.
Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe anticipates the trust will grow to several million dollars a year with donations from customers and periodic capital injections from the airline for projects that offset carbon emission.
First project off the rank is reforestation of more than 40 hectares of farmland at Mangarara Station in Hawke’s Bay with the planting of 85,000 trees over three years to create a conservation reserve for the public.
The farm project was adopted after environmentally conscious station owners Greg and Rachel Hart approached Air New Zealand to see if they could trade their Air New Zealand air points for carbon credits.
An airline spokesman said air points were not part of the initial scheme.
The cost of offsetting carbon emissions for a passenger on a flight from Auckland to Wellington will be $4.50, from Christchurch to Sydney, $13.70 and from Auckland to Los-Angeles, $88.10.
Fyfe said he was confident the projects would engage customers because they had an impact on research and development into alternative fuels and supporting projects that helped sustain New Zealand’s environment and biodiversity.
Some international airlines have already adopted New Zealand wind farms for their carbon credit trading through European and US carbon trading schemes.
Air NZ is working with Boeing and Rolls Royce to test fly a Boeing 747 aircraft later this year using biofuel. The carrier says it has reduced its CO2 emissions by 100,000 tonnes over the past three years.
By Denise McNabb
Independent Financial Review
27 March 2008
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