CJI Asia: Aviation should act on climate change – ‘or risk a carbon tax’


Business aviation and aviation in general should take action on climate change and cut its carbon dioxide emissions or risk the imposition of a carbon tax, warns Clive Jackson, founder and chairman of jet charter company Victor.

“Business aviation in many parts of the world is the only way to get around,” Jackson told the forum: Climate Change: Does Aviation Make An Impact? “Business aviation is still standing and, in some cases, thriving … so our industry does have a responsibility.”

Unless the industry took action to mitigate the impact of climate change, and was seen to be doing so, governments would step in, he said. “If we leave it to the authorities, it will result in a carbon tax. Some [environmental campaigners] have even been calling for a carbon tax of $100 per tonne of carbon. That would represent a massive burden in the post Covid world, when many business were trying to survive and many will not.”

‘Carbon tax of $100 per tonne’

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, aviation accounted for only 2-3% of all human carbon dioxide emissions, highlighted forum moderator Peter Coles, Clyde & Co.’s partner and head of aviation APAC (Asia Pacific). But business aviation was responsible for only 0.049% of total carbon emissions.

Michael Walsh, chief executive with Pacific Basin Economic Council, identified China as a leader on climate change action in Asia. Last month, President Xi Jinping told the United Nations General Assembly that China will aim to hit peak emissions before 2030 and for carbon neutrality by 2060. Also China is noted for over performing against publicly-stated targets.

Leo Knappen, Bombardier aviation’s chief, Industry Affairs, said the aviation industry was the first to adopt and climate change industry standard in the form of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO’s) Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

Payments to local authorities

The scheme involves companies which emit more than 10,000t of carbon dioxide making payments to local authorities. Knappen estimated that would affect 250 business jet operators around the world. “It doesn’t impact business aviation as much as the airlines, which undertake the majority of international travel,” he said.

Speakers highlighted the growing contribution of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), with renewable fuel processor Neste about to open a new refinery in Singapore. Knappen said SAF cut emissions by 18% compared with traditional Jet A fuel. Last year Neste produced about 100,000t of SAF, but with the Singapore facility reaching full production in 2023, the company was expected to ramp up production to 1.5m tonnes over the next two years.

That compares with a total aviation fuel burn, pre-Covid-19, of more than 1bn tonnes a year.

Corporate Jet Investor Asia 2020 took place on Tuesday October 13th and Wednesday October 14th. More information about the online event is available here.