Ryanair emissions worse than entire island of Malta

Published on 4th February, 2007.

JOHN REYNOLDS

RYANAIR’S vast fleet of planes will belch out more carbon dioxide this year than the country of Malta and its entire population of more than 400,000 people, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

The airline’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions since 1998 will have risen tenfold at the end of this year, a startling figure in the wake of a UN report stating that concentrations of greenhouse gases are higher now than for hundreds of thousands of years. Global climate change is very likely to be caused by human activities, the report concludes. Michael O’Leary boasts that Ryanair is the greenest airline in the world. But its total amount of greenhouse gases is rocketing. The airline will spew out approximately 3.7 million tonnes of CO2 this year, accounting for about five per cent of Ireland’s total emissions.

Analyst Stephen Furlong at Davy Stockbrokers forecasts that the airline will carry 52 million passengers this year. Environmental economists Trucost, who monitor airline pollution, reveal that average CO emissions per passenger are approximately 71.3kg.

This year’s carbon emissions from the airline will ultimately cause €250m worth of environmental damage, using figures cited in former World Bank economist Sir Nicholas Stern’s report on climate change. Each tonne of carbon ultimately does €68 worth of damage.

By 2012, Ryanair will carry more than 84m passengers, Furlong says. By then its planes will be spewing out nearly 6m tonnes of CO2 – more than Cyprus and its 800,000 people – causing over €500m worth of damage.

Ryanair head of communications Peter Sherrard argued: “Moneypoint power station in Co Clare emits more CO2 than Ryanair’s 52m passengers will. The average BA passenger emits five times as much as one of our passengers – and we’ve reduced emissions per passenger by 50 per cent since 1998.” Trucost disputed this figure, however, claiming that the reduction is actually 28 per cent.

The firm – which has consulted jet engine maker Rolls-Royce – also suggests that the efficiency of a plane’s engines declines as it ages, in the same way as a car’s engine. “This is likely to make our figures higher, if anything,” Richard Mattison, managing director of Trucost admitted.

Meanwhile, the EU is threatening to bring airlines under its emissions trading scheme by 2011, when passengers are likely to be hit with a fare increase for the pollution caused by their flights.

“Ryanair fares will be hit harder than most and are more price-sensitive than British Airways, for example. It will be a challenge for all airlines to reduce their emissions, whereas even an oil company like Shell can reduce emissions while increasing profits,” Mattison said.

However, any reductions in emissions from other industries may well be cancelled out by the growth of low-cost airlines.

Airline moguls across the world are clamouring to copy Ryanair’s success, most recently in Russia, but also in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America.

Ryanair founder Tony Ryan has a 49 per cent stake in Mexican airline Viva Aerobus as well as a 16 per cent stake in Jet Airways, a low-cost airline in Singapore.

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