Environmental Sustainability

Topics: Sustainability, Greenhouse gas, Carbon dioxide Pages: 7 (2216 words) Published: July 28, 2015


Although the aviation industry has contributed to economic sustainability, it has been long criticized to be one main reason of environmental degradation. With problems like fuel consumption, aircraft noise, air quality relevant emission, and other emission during flight travel, etc., the industry is referred as ‘dirty’ industry. The airline giant Virgin Atlantic takes the leading role on the war against carbon. As the director of customer experience at Virgin Atlantic said, although value of money and product quality are critical issues to take into consideration, the passengers of Virgin Atlantic expect more than that. Environmental sustainability has been concerned by more and more people lately and this drive the company to make improvements in this aspect. Virgin Atlantic’s improvements in achieving environmental sustainability are made in three areas - reduction in carbon emission, reduce/reuse/recycle of waste, and cooperation with sustainable suppliers. As leading aviation company, the first prior mission in environment sustainability is reduction in carbon emissions, for which the company aims to achieve a reduction of 30 percent between 2007 and 2020 (Virgin-Atlantic 2015). Virgin Atlantic also work hard in pushing the establish of climate change framework in global scale. In past decade, many environmental strategies have been implemented by the company including low carbon fuel alternatives and advanced technologies, all these helped the company to meet their environmental targets.

For a long time the aviation industry has been blamed for its contribution to climate change and global warming. While as a efficient travel method, plane flight journey is associated with problems including carbon and heat emission, loud noises, and producing of particulates and gases. European Commission reveals that from 1990 to 2006, the increasing rate of gas emissions from aviation industry is as high as 87 percent. Further more, the rapid growth of aviation industry make the environmental problems even worse. Take figures of 2014 for examples, the occupied seats of the year is 3 billion, which doubled the number of 1999, and the U.S. airlines alone has used 16.2 billion gallons of aviation fuel. Both public and aviation industry professionals have aware that changes should take place in the industry. However, although everyone in the industry understand the urgent need for change, not too much has been done by most airline companies. The root reason for this is that leaders in this industry worried that no cheap and efficient technology can be provided to replace conventional methods. It is more than often that economists and environmentalists always give different opinions, as they all try to achieve goals in their own realm at the expense of the other. For the effective and efficient sustainable strategies, aviation industry leaders should deliberately consider the balance between money efficiency and environmental sustainability.

Virgin Atlantic has take the responsibility as leading role in the forefront of carbon fight. The company sets goal of sustainable aviation and have introduced number of strategies to reduce environmental footprints and improve operation efficiency. As sir Richard Branson claimed (2006), although the aviation industry contributed in economic sustainability, the fact that aviation resulted in numbers of environmental issues should not be neglected, thus the company would work hard in reducing environmental impact of aviation industry. On Virgin Atlantic website, the company conclude their environmental strategies in three main areas: carbon, waste, and buying.

Carbon emission is aviation company’s most important environmental issue. The company goal is to reduce carbon emission per flying mile by 30 percent by the year of 2020. This target will be...
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