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About Us

Fly Carbon Neutral

virgin australia fleet

At Virgin Australia we take our commitment to minimising the environmental impact of our business very seriously through a range of activities as part of our corporate sustainability strategy. As part of this strategy we are pleased to offer you the opportunity to offset the carbon emissions on your Virgin Australia flight.

Fly Carbon Neutral is voluntary for guests who wish to neutralise the carbon emissions from their flight. It is paid in addition to any obligations under the Australian Government’s carbon price. Under the program, your seat emissions are calculated and an equivalent amount of carbon offset credits are purchased and retired meaning the emissions from your flight are truly neutralised. Fly Carbon Neutral is accredited under the Australian Government’s National Carbon Offset Scheme, which guarantees the methodology we use is accurate and the offsets we source are of the highest quality. More information about Fly Carbon Neutral, including the specific offset projects we source credits from can be found below.

The airline’s participation in the Australian Government’s carbon price mechanism does not result in your seat emissions being neutralised. Putting a price on carbon provides additional incentive for companies and households to reduce emissions. The carbon price does not offset your flight and you will not be flying carbon neutral. It is important to note that the carbon emissions offset by our guests is not used by us to reduce the airline’s liability under the carbon price mechanism.   


National carbon offset standard, An Australian Government Initiative

 

Aviation and the environment

At Virgin Australia we take our commitment to minimising any kind of environmental impact of our activities seriously. We operate a fleet of fuel efficient next generation Boeing 737 and 777 aircraft, Embraer E-Jets, Airbus A330s and ATR 72s, and continually seek to improve fuel efficiency through technological and operational enhancements such as reducing aircraft weight and improved flight planning.

We are also working with industry and governments to develop commercial supplies of sustainable aviation biofuels. We also wholeheartedly support Sir Richard Branson’s initiatives to address climate change including reduction of aircraft fuel emissions and the development of new technologies, such as alternative fuels and new engines and airframes that will improve efficiency further.

Carbon offsetting is an important component of our sustainability strategy. At the end of the day, flying results in the emission of greenhouse gases no matter how efficient we are. Offsetting is an option that allows us and our guests to offset emissions related to flights through Australian Government recognised abatement projects. Such projects also provide multiple environmental, economic and social co-benefits.

How do I offset my flight?

Flying like many other forms of transport impacts the environment because the fuel used by airlines results in the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other emissions into the upper atmosphere. Virgin Australia has set our own challenge to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to our business. Our guests have the opportunity to offset emissions related to flights taken with Virgin Australia.

You can offset the carbon emissions from your Virgin Australia flight when booking your flight through our website. Simply tick the Carbon Offset box that appears on the Travel Extras page during the booking process.

How do we calculate the emissions from your flight?

Virgin Australia has undertaken an extensive life cycle assessment of its greenhouse gas emissions. The emissions attributed to you and your seat are based on actual fuel use over the past year for the route you are flying. Added to this is a component for emissions associated with ground activities including electricity use in the terminals and fuel used by the ground service vehicles. These calculations are updated annually. This provides assurance that the figures we quote you are as accurate as possible, taking into account many factors that influence fuel use and emissions including weather conditions (e.g. headwinds) and air traffic requirements (e.g. holding patterns).

Having calculated emissions on each flight route for the past year, we then divide the figure for the route you are flying by the number of people that travelled on that route during the previous year. An amount is subtracted to account for the freight carried on the aircraft. The resulting emission figures are then used in the online calculator.

Since 2007 our data and methodology has been independently verified and then certified by the Australian Government’s Greenhouse Friendly program, which has since been replaced by the National Carbon Offset Standard Carbon Neutral program (NCOS CN).

Where does your money go?

Virgin Australia's carbon offset program has been certified under the National Carbon Offset Standard Carbon Neutral (NCOS CN). The NCOS CN guidelines specify eligible abatement and offset units that can be used to acquit emissions from your flight. The offsets used by Virgin Australia are generated from projects that are accredited under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and are NCOS CN compliant.

Tasmanian Land Conservancy – New Leaf Carbon Project
Virgin Australia guests offsetting their flights are directly supporting the preservation of Tasmania’s native forests while also contributing to the protection of important species and ecosystems.

The Tasmanian Land Conservancy (TLC) is a science-based environmental organisation that protects land for biodiversity, applying business principles to achieving conservation outcomes. The TLC manages over 30,000 hectares of habitat for rare and threatened species, including the iconic Tasmanian devil and the magnificent Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle. In partnership with the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, the TLC has identified a special management zone where it will conduct intensive monitoring for Tasmanian devils in the wild.

The Tasmanian Land Conservancy’s New Leaf Carbon Project directly reduces carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere by protecting approximately 12,000 hectares of native Tasmanian forest. Contiguous with the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, it contains entire watersheds of pristine ecosystems and habitats.

When a forest is intact, the trees fix carbon dioxide from the air into their wood, and retain it for centuries. However, when forests are logged, most wood is processed into short-lived products like paper that end up in landfill, rotting and generating carbon dioxide.

This New Leaf Carbon Project was established under the international Verified Carbon Standard to generate carbon credits using the VM10 methodology. TLC credits are also verified under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity standards and are recognised at the highest ‘Gold Level’, meaning that benefits flow to the community as well as wildlife, plants and their habitat.

The TLC are leading the way in establishing a comprehensive monitoring program that will see hundreds of permanent photo-monitoring sites strategically linked to a network of fauna monitoring stations that track our wildlife over time. Their vision is for the monitoring stations to be capable of sending real time information to scientists to interpret. Hundreds of acoustic sensors will remotely detect and identify birds, bats and frogs from their calls, providing vital information about the species that survive and thrive in these remote landscapes.

Imagine sitting with a laptop, tablet or smartphone, watching a healthy Tasmanian devil fossick around a camera hundreds of kilometres away, or watching wedge-tailed eagles fledge from their nests.

By offsetting your flight you will support the TLC’s efforts, using science and technology to guide its carbon abatement and biodiversity conservation work.

For more information visit: www.tasland.org.au

The carbon offsets generated by this project are verified under the Verified Carbon Standard and meet the requirements of the National Carbon Offset Standard. This means that the methodology behind the project is robust and the resultant reduction in CO2 emissions are additional, that is they would not have occurred had the project not occurred.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why offset your flight with us?

Each time you fly there is an impact on climate change because the fuel used by the aircraft results in the release of carbon dioxide into the upper atmosphere. At Virgin Australia we have set ourselves the challenge to further reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and now we are offering our guests the opportunity to offset the emissions related to flights taken on our airlines.

2. What is climate change and why is it a problem?

While the prevailing patterns of the Earth's climate have always changed throughout our planet’s history, today the term "climate change" is generally used to refer to changes in climate patterns during the past 100 years that are increasingly thought to have been caused by human activities, such as burning fossil fuels when we drive our cars or fly in an airplane or simply using electricity generated by coal fired power plants.

These activities are increasing the levels of naturally occurring gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. These gases (known as "greenhouse gases") retain the heat reflected from the planet’s surface which otherwise would be dissipated into space.

In the past there was a balance maintained between the amounts of such gases in the atmosphere; the amount of heat they retained in the Earth’s atmosphere; and the maintenance of an acceptable average temperature across the planet to sustain life. The increase in these gases has tipped that balance and the Earth’s average temperatures are steadily rising, causing changes to prevailing weather patterns (climate change). This is what is known as the "greenhouse effect."

3. What is aviation’s impact on global warming?

Fuel used by aircraft engines results in carbon dioxide and other substances being released to the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide contributes directly to the greenhouse effect. While other substances emitted (e.g. nitrogen oxides and water vapour) contribute to global warming, their exact impact is still not known.  Aviation is responsible for an estimated 2% of global carbon dioxide emissions.

4. What is carbon offsetting?

Carbon offsetting involves investing in projects that prevent or reduce emissions being released thus counterbalancing the emissions associated with your flight. These projects must comply with stringent rules to ensure they are of the highest quality and actually deliver what they promise. Virgin Australia is participating in the National Carbon Offset Standard Carbon Neutral (NCOS CN) program and will only use abatement prescribed under its guidelines.

5. Will offsetting solve the issue of climate change?

Offsetting is only part of a balanced approach to addressing the issue of climate change. While offsetting does not reduce emissions directly, it allows projects to occur that either take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or avoid its release. Offsetting also helps to raise awareness of the issue of climate change and the impact that our lifestyles have on the environment.

6. Is carbon offsetting a compulsory tax on my flight?

No – Virgin Australia’s Carbon Offset Program is completely voluntary. It allows you to make personal choice to offset greenhouse gas emissions related to your travel with us.

7. What is the airline doing to address greenhouse gas emissions?

We have adopted an integrated management approach, focusing on reducing emissions and maximising efficiency, including:

  • Technology: we have a young and fuel efficient fleet and we are reinvesting to ensure our fleet remains this way
  • Alternative fuels: We are working hard with industry to encourage the development of sustainable aviation biofuels
  • Operational: We are constantly examining ways to improve fuel efficiency of our operations, for example reducing the weight carried by our aircraft and working with air service providers to improve aircraft routes and flight profiles.

8. How is the amount of carbon emissions from my flight calculated?

Virgin Australia has undertaken an extensive study into its greenhouse gas emissions. The emissions attributed to your seat are based on actual fuel use figures over the past year for the sector you are flying. Added to this is a component for emissions associated with ground activities associated with your flight including electricity use in the terminals and fuel used by the ground service vehicles. These calculations are updated annually. This provides assurance that the figures we quote you are as accurate as possible, taking into account  many factors that influence fuel use and emissions including weather conditions (e.g. headwinds) and air traffic requirements (e.g. holding patterns). For example, you will notice that the level of emissions calculated for a Brisbane to Perth sector is different to the emissions calculated for the return Perth to Brisbane sector – the same distance but different due to prevailing weather conditions (wind direction).

The methodology set out in the latest version of the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency’s publication, “National Greenhouse Accounts (NGA) Factors” is utilised to identify and calculate emissions. The factors are designed to be consistent with both international reporting frameworks and national emissions estimation methodologies. Emissions include carbon dioxide and the global warming effect of methane and nitrous oxides. While it is acknowledged that other emissions from aircraft at altitude (including nitrogen oxides and contrails) indirectly impact on global warming, these are currently not considered in calculations due to the current level of uncertainty surrounding the magnitude of their impact.

9. Why aren't non-CO2 impacts taken into account by the program?

As mentioned, there are other aircraft engine emissions that can contribute to climate change. Aircraft emit gases and particles directly into the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere where they have an impact on atmospheric composition. These gases and particles alter the concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), ozone (O3), and methane (CH4); trigger formation of condensation trails (contrails); and may increase cirrus cloudiness-all of which contribute to climate change (IPCC:1999).

There is still considerable scientific uncertainty about the scale of the impact of these emissions. This is reflected in the wide range of different factors being used by the offsetting industry to attempt to account for these impacts.

10. How is the payment required to offset the carbon emission from my flight calculated?

This is based on the purchase price of greenhouse gas abatement projects (dollars per tonne). After we have calculated your seat emissions for your particular flight we multiply it by the cost of abatement per tonne to determine the final purchase price.

11. Can I contribute more than what is calculated through this channel?

Currently you can only pay to offset your share of the carbon emissions from the flight you are booking.

12. Are there credit card transaction charges associated with my contribution?

Yes. If you choose to offset the emissions relating to your seat on your flight with us a credit card transaction fee at the rate of 1.2% will be charged.

13. Is my contribution tax deductible?

The contribution forms part of the cost of your travel. The contribution is not a separate tax-deductible donation.

14. Can I get a receipt for my contribution?

Yes. When the transaction is finalised a receipt will be emailed to you.

15. Where does my money go? Which programs?

Virgin Australia's carbon offset program has been certified under the Australian Government’s National Carbon Offset Standard Carbon Neutral (NCOS CN).  The NCOS CN program has provided a robust framework to ensure that a strict methodology is followed to ensure that offset emissions are accurate and that abatement credits sourced are of the highest quality.  The NCOS CN guidelines specify eligible abatement and offset units that can be used to acquit emissions from your flight.

16. How do you choose which projects to fund?

We have taken a decision to support projects prescribed in the NCOS CN guidelines to ensure that recipient projects have undergone a certification process to verify that the projects abate the claimed amount of emissions.

17. Are the projects independently verified?

Yes. Under the NCOS CN program, abatement projects must be certified under specified programs including the Voluntary Carbon Standard and the Gold Standard.

18. Can I choose which program my contribution goes to?

Not at this stage, however you can be assured that only Government endorsed projects are supported. This ensures that the project has undergone a certification process to ensure that the project abates the claimed amount of greenhouse.

19. Does Virgin Australia make any profit from this transaction?

No. 100% of money collected through our optional Carbon Offset Program will go towards abatement projects. The airline covers the administration costs.

*Please note, a separate credit card transaction fee at the rate of 1.2% will apply, as will GST.

20. How can I be sure that the emission volume attributable to my flight listed on this website is correct?

As part of the membership process for the Australian Government’s NCOS CN program, the airline has to undertake a life cycle assessment to accurately determine the greenhouse gas emissions associated with each flight. This process must be independently verified.

21. Why do different companies give different prices to offset emissions from the same flight?

We understand that other offset programs calculate emissions based on kilometres flown - this method does not take into account many factors that influence fuel use and emissions including weather conditions (e.g. headwinds) and air traffic requirements (e.g. holding patterns). You would need to ask different companies about the specifics of how they calculate emissions.

We have undertaken an extensive study into our greenhouse gas emissions. The emissions we have attributed to your seat are based on actual fuel use figures over the past year for the sector you are flying. Added to this is a component for greenhouse gas emissions associated with ground activities associated with your flight including electricity use in the terminals and fuel used by the ground service vehicles.

Finally, many companies attempt to account for non-CO2 emissions by using various factors. As already mentioned, there is still considerable scientific uncertainty about the scale of the impact of these emissions and this is reflected in the many different values that are being applied.