On a quest to halve its emissions by 2025, Finnair’s new carbon offset scheme lets customers choose to invest in cleaner fuel or climate projects. But should the airline be putting the responsibility on consumers to pay? Rose Dykins reports

Finnair is inviting its customers to offset their flight emissions with a service that lets them fund the roll-out of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and trusted climate projects. The initiative allows Finnair customers to calculate the emissions of their flight and digitally offset their journey by choosing to donate to a mixture of the two.

On the online platform, Chooose, via finnair.com, the price passengers pay to offset varies depending on how the contribution is shared between SAF and climate crisis prevention projects selected by the airline.

Eveliina Huurre, Finnair’s senior vice-president of sustainability, says: “Both Finnair and our customers are keen to reduce the CO2 footprint of air travel and we want to offer our customers a simple and transparent way to do this. Our service combines two important tools, offsets and SAF, which both are needed to reach carbon neutrality in aviation.”

SAF is a substitute for fossil jet fuel, produced from sustainable sources such as waste oils. Currently, its high price and limited availability presents a challenge for increasing its widespread usage in commercial aviation. To help overcome this, it’s important to stimulate demand and supply for SAF to drive down its price and increase its availability.

Finnair’s Chooose platform also offers the option to invest in trustworthy offset projects with “concrete and verifiable emission cuts”, which the airline says is integral in reaching carbon neutrality in aviation.

Finnair’s previous offsetting scheme was discontinued in March 2020 due to Finnish legislation, but this has since been changed to allow companies to offer CO2 offsetting services to consumers.

The introduction of its Chooose offsetting platform for customers is a key step as the airline systematically works towards its ambitious targets to halve its emissions by the end of 2025 and reach carbon neutrality by the end of 2045.

To help achieve these CO2 reduction targets, the airline has deployed a business-wide programme of aircraft weight reduction, fuel-efficient flying and the use of sustainable aviation fuels and offsetting.

As a member of Oneworld airline alliance, Finnair has also signed up to the group’s SAF purchase  agreement. Oneworld members plan to purchase up to 200 million gallons of SAF per year from Colorado-based renewable fuels producer Gevo to collectively increase the supply and demand of clean fuel and its usage in commercial aviation.

Gevo’s sustainable fuel is produced using inedible corn products, processed to create ethanol that is then converted into SAF. Delivery of the fuel to Oneworld members will commence from 2027 for a five-year term.

Oneworld is the first global airline alliance to jointly commit to purchasing SAF, and the new commitment is the second of its kind. In November 2021, Oneworld announced a joint commitment to purchase more than 350 million gallons of blended SAF from Aemetis for operations at San Francisco, and Finnair was among the members in this commitment.

Finnair has flown individual flights powered by an SAF blend already since 2011, and intends to increase the use of SAF in its flight operations. The airline also previously partnered with Neste in Finland to increase to use of SAF and reduce the carbon emissions of its flights.

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