Climate change

Climate change matters

We, at Cathay Pacific are committed to reducing our carbon emissions and mitigating the impact air travel has on climate change. The use of non-renewable fossil fuels is not only a major operating cost for us, but it also has a significant environmental impact.

There are increasing economic, environmental and social incentives for us to be a more sustainable airline. Our belief is that implementing sustainable solutions, such as fuel efficiency, new fleet and sustainable biofuels will help address our overall environmental impacts.

We agree with our stakeholders that climate change is one of the company’s highest environmental challenge and we should address it as a priority. Therefore, we will continue to manage the long-term impacts of our carbon footprint in an innovative manner.

What our stakeholders think

Not surprisingly, climate change, carbon emissions and energy efficiency remain as the primary environmental focus for stakeholders. In particular, the volatility of fuel prices and supply is perceived to have a high impact on our business, along with increasing regulations such as the emergence of different Emissions Trading Schemes, and the development of a global market-based measure, the Carbon Offset Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

In particular, biofuels will play a major role in helping us achieve our emissions goal. Climate change has been a material issue for us for a long time and stakeholders recognise our dedication in prioritising innovative ways to improve our environmental impact. However, at the same time, stakeholders expect us to adopt targets that exceed those of the industry, which we have since 2012 in terms of our efficiency improvement target.

There is an expectation for us to further enhance our approach to mitigating climate change effects, especially with staff. We understand the need for us to engage more proactively and publicly on this issue.

Performance update

Greenhouse gas emission

Scope 1 emissions

17.2million tonnes

Aviation fuel, fuel combustion and towngas

Scope 2 emissions


Electricity and towngas

Global CO2 emissions and fuel efficiency improvement – Cathay Pacific group fleet

  • Total CO2 emissions (measured in ‘000 tonnes)
  • Grammes / RTK
  • Grammes / ATK
  • includes Cathay Dragon since 2007
  • includes testing, training, and wet-lease flights since 2009

Fleet management

We have
202 aircraft

10 new A350-900s were delivered to us in 2016.

New generation aircraft are

more fuel efficient than older models.

We retired 6 less efficient aircraft from the fleet in 2016.

3Airbus A340–300s

3Boeing 747–440s

FLY greener

9 years ago, in 2007, we launched FLY greener.

was offset in 2016. We offset all staff business travel.


First A350 delivered

In 2016, we took delivery of 10 Airbus A350-900XWB aircraft, which are equipped with our latest cabins, seat entertainment systems and inflight connectivity. The combination of advanced aerodynamics, lightweight composite materials and the latest Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines resulted in a 25% reduction in fuel burn compared to existing wide-body aircraft. As well as reducing operating costs, the highly efficient A350 also benefits the environment, with a corresponding cut in CO2 emissions, reduced NOx emissions and a smaller external noise footprint.

First Cathay Pacific flight powered by biofuels

The first Cathay Pacific flight powered by biofuels arrived at HKIA in May. This flight was operated on a newly delivered Airbus A350-900 and was the world’s longest biofuel flight to date. The following 21 delivery flights from Toulouse will also use a 10% blend of biofuel. This biofuel is made from sustainable sugars, using a process of fermentation whereby modified yeast produces hydrocarbons that can be processed into jet fuel. Not only does this fuel have a lower life cycle CO2 than fossil fuel, but biofuel also burns cleaner. The intent of using biofuel on these flights is for Cathay to become accustomed to flying on renewable fuel as we move closer to larger volumes becoming available over the next three to five years.

The combination of a modern fuel-efficient aircraft and the use of biofuels will result in some of the lowest net CO2 emissions for commercial aircraft in service today.

Jeff Ovens

Bio Fuel Procurement Manager

Fly greener

In 2007, Cathay Pacific launched a carbon offset programme, FLY greener, which is the first by an Asian airline. The programme is part of our ongoing effort to engage with passengers on issues with regards to climate change. They can contribute to projects that reduce CO2 emissions, and increase their awareness on climate change issues. More information on this programme including the projects we offer and our unique corporate carbon offset programme for corporate clients, can be found at

Based on carbon emissions calculated for the specified flights, the attributable monetary contributions go directly to fund third-party validated projects that help to offset the carbon dioxide generated by those flights. All of the projects we offer are certified under the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) to ensure that they are verifiable, credible and make a difference to local communities and the environment.

In 2016, 2,900 tCO2 were offset by our passengers, including several companies in Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon also offset the CO2 impacts of staff travelling on business, amounting to 11,200 tCO2 at an approximate cost of HK$295,000 in 2016.

Global Market-based Measure

In October 2016 at the ICAO 39th Assembly, global aviation industry reached a landmark climate agreement to put in place the world’s first mandatory carbon offsetting scheme covering an entire industry. This is an important regulation that will require all international airlines to offset industry’s growth in carbon emissions, which is set to commence in 2020. This helps toward achieving the industry target of carbon neutral growth (CNG) by 2020.

For Cathay Pacific, as we expect to continue to grow, it means we will likely need to offset a proportion of our emissions post 2020. However, our investment in biofuels and efficient aircraft such as the Airbus A350 and Boeing 777-9X will help reduce our emissions and offset obligations.