Canadian Biomass Magazine

Air Canada targets 2050 as year it plans to reach net-zero GHG emissions

March 15, 2021
By Air Canada

Air Canada is making a long-term commitment toward advancing climate change sustainability, setting absolute mid-term greenhouse gas (GHG) net reduction targets by 2030 compared to its 2019 baseline.

The airline’s goal is to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through its worldwide operations by 2050. Air Canada has committed to invest $50 million in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and carbon reductions and removals.

“Economic growth and sustainability are equally important, and we have a strong track record for both,” Michael Rousseau, president and chief executive officer at Air Canada, said. “Despite the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain deeply committed to long-term sustainability. Climate change is critical, and we believe we can and must do more to address this for the future of our environment. This is why we are further embedding climate considerations into our strategic decision-making, and undertaking a very ambitious plan that is meaningful, will support Canada’s leadership position on climate change, advance de-carbonization in the airline industry while keeping fares affordable for customers.”

Air Canada is focused on investing in innovative, long-term, sustainable emission reduction solutions. Absolute 2030 midterm GHG reduction targets have been set to ensure meaningful progress towards Air Canada’s ambitions net zero goal while the airline, technology and energy sectors are transitioning to low carbon alternatives.


Air Canada has identified the following key carbon reduction pillars:

Fleet and operations. Air Canada will continue deploying its newly modernized and energy-efficient Airbus A220 and Boeing 737 MAX narrow-body fleets that are more efficient and expected to average approximately 20 per cent less fuel consumption per seat and emit approximately 20 per cent less CO2 and 50 per cent less nitrogen oxides than aircraft they replace, continue to integrate climate factors in route and fleet planning, phase out carbon-intensive ground equipment, further advance electric vehicles and seek other electrification opportunities.

Innovation. Further evaluate the viability, safety and performance of new electric, hydrogen or hybrid operational technologies, and other innovations such as short-haul transportation opportunities and electric drones to complement and support Air Canada’s global business network.

Sustainable Aviation Fuels and clean energy. To further its work on sustainable aviation fuels, Air Canada will invest $50 million in SAF and other low carbon aviation fuel (LCAF) development, evaluate the practical applications of renewable energy sources such as biogas and renewable electricity, and energy transition measures.

Carbon Reductions and Removals. Air Canada will explore carbon negative emission technologies and other direct emission reduction and removal strategies in addition to further developing its carbon offset strategy for CORSIA compliance, customer offerings and more.

Details and updates to Air Canada’s ambitious climate plan will be posted on in the coming weeks.

Air Canada currently reports its carbon footprint, targets and climate protection strategy through the CDP and will also be reporting through the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (“TCFD”) framework as of 2022.

Air Canada has built a foundation in energy sustainability through numerous comprehensive initiatives to reduce its environment footprint. Since 1990, Air Canada has improved fuel efficiency by 43 per cent.  From 2016 to 2019, the airline reduced more than 135,000 tonnes of GHG from its air operations through fuel efficiency initiatives, and its work in fuel sustainability includes:

  • Participating in eight biofuel flights with ongoing, active support for the development of SAF in Canada, including working with the Government of Canada on policy development to support a Canadian-based sustainable aviation fuel industry.
  • Lead airline on Canada’s Biojet Supply Chain Initiative (CBSCI), a project to identify and solve supply logistic barriers that arise when aviation biofuels are introduced at major Canadian airports.
  • Contributing to the Civil Aviation Alternate Fuel Contrail and Emissions Research project (CAAFCER) to test the environmental benefits of biofuel use on contrail formation, benefiting all aviation stakeholders and climate science researchers.
  • Implementing a technologically advanced livery paint and painting process resulting in significant weight and fuel savings, with no chrome, lead or other heavy metals and is expected to last longer when compared to standard paint.
  • Operational improvements realized through more than 100 projects to optimize fuel consumption,  including  profile departure, RNPAR (a type of performance-based navigation), single engine taxiing to aircraft weight reduction such as the use of lightweight crew luggage, iPads for pilots replacing paper manuals and lighter weight composite onboard carts.

In 2020 and 2019, Air Canada was recognized by Vancouver Airport Authority as the YVR Green Excellence winner for green initiatives on Sea Island including water and energy conservation, waste minimization and the Richmond Ocean Shoreline Cleanup.

In 2018, Air Canada was named Eco-Airline of the Year by Air Transport World for Air Canada’s leadership in fuel efficiency and innovative sustainability, initiatives through a $10-billion fleet modernization, sustainable aviation fuel development and support in Canada, and fuel efficiency program and route improvements.

Since 2007, a long-standing program offering customer carbon neutral purchase options has resulted in more than 60,000 tC02e of emissions offset.

Additional information about Air Canada’s ESG activities is detailed in the airline’s Corporate Sustainability Report, Citizens of the World.

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