Greenest airlines in Australia

Looking to plan a more sustainable holiday? Find out how with the Finder Green Awards.

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Finder research has shown that 47% of Australians are on an active search for "greener" products or services.

Unfortunately, Finder also found that more than three-quarters (76%) of Australian consumers struggle to pick out which is actually the greenest option.

We wanted to make this search a little easier, particularly in the aviation industry which is notorious for its carbon emissions. Have a read below to find out which airline that flies to Australia came out on top for flying sustainably.

Air New Zealand takes top spot

Green Airline of the Year 2020

As part of the Finder Green Awards, we are pleased to announce Air New Zealand as our Green Airline of the Year. Hailing from a country that is renowned for its natural beauty, it's hardly surprising that Air New Zealand is making a positive impact in the green airline space.

The Kiwi carrier has committed to a range of public targets, most notably to reduce its carbon emissions through carbon neutral growth beyond 2020 and engaging in long-term strategic partnerships to help protect New Zealand's precious natural capital. In 2019 it saved a total of 15,084 tonnes of CO2 emissions through its carbon reduction program, as well as offsetting 183,624 customer flights voluntarily.

Air New Zealand impressed us with its strong commitment to sustainable procurement, outlined in its Air New Zealand Supplier Code of Conduct. This code addresses the minimum requirements for its suppliers in areas such as environmental sustainability, labour and human rights, and ethical business.

In addition to this, Air New Zealand has engaged a panel of external subject matter experts to aid in its ongoing sustainability journey.

Qantas: The flying kangaroo as a finalist

Qantas was named as our finalist in this category, demonstrating its commitment to building a sustainable future.

Qantas boasts a number of external accreditations and benchmarks including a commitment to the UN Global Compact, submitting to audited environmental metrics, and is a signatory to Climate Active Carbon Neutral.

The Aussie airline has set a number of public targets including aiming for a 1.5% average annual fuel efficiency improvement, aiming for net zero emissions by 2050 and reducing waste by 75% by 2021.

In addition to this, it also has a code of conduct in place for its suppliers to ensure sustainable procurement of its resources.

What makes an airline green?

  • Current performance and targets (50%)

Half of our assessment looked at the airline's environmental performance more broadly. We took into account its current performance, environmental targets and any accreditations or benchmarks in that space.

Current performance accounted for 40% of the judging and encompassed the airline's emissions intensity as a company, the proportion of energy that is sourced from renewables, and how much of its waste ends up in landfill.

Environmental targets were given a 7% weighting and aimed to determine whether the airline had any targets set in the following spaces: emissions reduction, renewable energy use or waste reduction.

Lastly, reporting and accreditation made up 3% of the assessment. We wanted to know if the airline had committed to a public climate change plan, met any external environmental benchmarks or received any relevant accreditation such as B-Corp certification or CitySwitch for example.

  • Airline specific environmental criteria (50%)

The second half of the scoring delved into environmental criteria that is more specific to the airline industry. We asked for information regarding the airline's emissions per passenger journey, carbon offsets and policies around sustainable procurement.

Emissions per passenger journey comprised the bulk of this section with a 40% weighting.

Planes are significant contributors to CO2 emissions globally so we aimed to find out the emissions per passenger kilometre to get an understanding of each airline's output.

A further 5% of the scores looked at the airlines' carbon offsets. We did this in two ways. The first looked at the proportion of customers opting for carbon offsets. The second looked at the quality of these offsets.

Finally, we wanted to know if the airlines had a policy for sustainable procurement in place to ensure that its goods and services have been sourced sustainably. This accounted for the final 5% of the scores.

Green Airline of the Year award methodology

The table below shows a more detailed breakdown of the scoring. If you're interested in more details you can view the Finder Green Awards 2020 methodology document.

Eligibility criteria: Airline must have offered flights to or from Australia in the 12 months prior to 31 December 2019

General environmental criteria:Sector-specific environmental criteria:

Current performance: 56%

  • Emissions intensity
  • Emissions intensity (inc. offsets)
  • Energy from renewable sources
  • Waste avoiding landfill

Environmental targets: 10%

  • Emissions target
  • Renewable energy target
  • Waste target

Reporting and accreditation: 4%

  • Public climate change plan
  • External benchmarks/accreditation

Responsible financing strategy: 20%

  • Negative screening
  • Positive screening
  • Climate positive financing

Climate-friendly products: 10%

  • Incentives/discounts for sustainable

purchases or behaviour

  • Carbon neutral products
  • Other (specify)

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