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Pacific Blue Goes Green: Pacific Blue Launches New Zealand Carbon Offset Program

12/06/2007

New Zealand airline Pacific Blue today officially launched its carbon offset program as part of an integrated strategy to address greenhouse gas emissions. All monies collected from the scheme will go towards Government approved New Zealand projects to reduce carbon emissions.


The airline is part of the Virgin Blue Airlines Group and is the first in New Zealand to offer its Guests the chance to offset the carbon emissions from flights.


Guests can voluntarily offset their flights from around NZD$3 per sector.


The Hon. David Benson-Pope, Minister for the Environment, joined Pacific Blue CEO John Bartlett, at a function in Wellington this morning to formally launch the program.


John Bartlett said "Our sister airline Virgin Blue led the way in Australia earlier this year when it became the first airline in the world to introduce a Government certified carbon offset program, and we’re very pleased to officially launch our own program for New Zealand.


"The environmental impact of travel is something that everyone in the New Zealand tourism and transport sector is considering carefully. We believe our carbon offset program along with our initiatives to reduce emissions is a step towards creating a sustainable aviation environment" he said.


Virgin Blue Airlines Group CEO Brett Godfrey last week called on the aviation sector and all organisations which emit green house gases to work actively to 'reduce and report' their efforts.


"Our airlines and all other New Zealand and Australian airlines need to ensure they become more efficient, in the interests of continuous improvement in limiting and offsetting greenhouse gas emissions related to their activities," he said.


"We congratulate the New Zealand Government on its initiative and interest in stimulating change on this issue. We believe Governments must take the domestic lead on national goal setting to reduce environmental impact and ultimately in conjunction with the world community, agree levels that will allow safe and stable levels of greenhouse gas emissions.


"Additionally measurable and achievable smaller targets must be established to allow for intervention and correction of targets along the way.


"We accept the necessary concept of national or even regional carbon based trading schemes as the clearest mechanism available to induce market driven investment in new energy sources. It is working in Europe and it will work in our part of the world," Mr Godfrey said.


"Additionally we believe business and Governments can and should work together on a solution which offers tax credits and other fiscal incentives to unlock private enterprise in research and development.


"At Pacific Blue as at Virgin Blue, we have set ourselves a path of continual improvement taking steps to reduce our emissions as much as possible through a series of initiatives and introducing a carbon offset programme in response to demand from our Guests.


The Pacific Blue carbon offset program has two key elements.


Guests who travel on Pacific Blue or Polynesian Blue flights have the option of voluntarily offsetting their share of carbon emissions generated from the flight. They are offered the opportunity during the flight booking process to contribute towards projects that have been approved by the Ministry for the Environment’s Projects to Reduce Emissions (PRE) programme.

Pacific Blue offsets all flights taken by its own crew and staff travelling on company business.

Mr Bartlett said that the Pacific Blue team had been investigating suitable New Zealand-based greenhouse abatement projects for the airline to support for some time and was pleased to support the Ministry for the Environment’s initiative.


"We have set up robust and transparent internal systems to track and report on our carbon offset program, and our Guests can be confident that under the PRE programme we will be funding high-quality, certified abatement projects on their behalf."


Pacific Blue said it already operates a fleet of the latest 737 NG aircraft and has implemented strategies to further reduce its carbon footprint through more efficient flight planning and aircraft weight reduction as part of a total environmental strategy.


The airline has included links on its website to education and awareness information to help its Guests address the carbon emissions generated in other areas of their lives.


About Pacific Blue, Polynesian Blue, and Virgin Blue Airlines


International airlines Pacific Blue and Polynesian Blue, along with Australian domestic airline Virgin Blue, operate a fleet of 53 modern Boeing 737 aircraft flying to 8 international and 22 Australian destinations including New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu and the Cook Islands. For bookings visit www.flypacificblue.com or www.polynesianblue.com or phone 0800 670 000.


About the Ministry for the Environment’s Projects to Reduce Emissions Programme


The Projects to Reduce Emissions (PRE) programme supports initiatives that will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beyond the reductions that would have occurred without the project by awarding them emissions units, or "carbon credits". Emission units are internationally tradable and add to the financial value of a project that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Projects must take place in New Zealand and result in a reduction in the total greenhouse gas emissions that will be reported by New Zealand in the greenhouse gas inventory.


For more information please visit www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/climate/policies-initiatives/projects/index.html