Colombo, April 25, 2017: SriLankan Airlines, which has been widely recognized for many years as a pioneer of environmental conservation in the global airline industry, has achieved the distinction of becoming one of only six airlines worldwide to obtain the prestigious Quality Assurance Standard (QAS) accreditation for its Voluntary Carbon Offset Programme, ‘Flygreen’.
SriLankan is now authorized to display the QAS Carbon Neutral Quality Mark, demonstrating that it is using the global best practices for carbon offsetting. QAS (www.qascarbonneutral.com) is an accreditation that is awarded following a comprehensive independent audit system for companies who wish to evaluate their carbon offsets against the high standards available. QAS audits involve a 40-point checklist to ensure that companies meet the very highest standards in the world in terms of carbon offsetting.
The ‘Flygreen’ Programme (www.srilankan.com/environment) actively obtains the participation of the airline’s passengers, who are given the unique opportunity of voluntarily donating a prefixed amount to offset the carbon footprint of their respective flight. These donations are then channeled through the global airline industry’s governing body, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and are utilized to procure carbon offsets on behalf of SriLankan and neutralize the footprints. At present the offsets are sourced from two Sri Lanka eco-ventures – the Hapugastenne Mini Hydro Project and Hulu Ganga Mini Hydro Project - in order to support the country and local eco-ventures.
The stringent audit included checks on areas such as providing passengers with full access to the airline’s carbon calculation information, carbon offset project information, price per ton of carbon dioxide and passengers’ Q&As; review of the airline’s carbon calculation data; rapid retirement of carbon credits; and confirmation of total volumes of carbon credits sold to passengers.
SriLankan’s ‘Flygreen’ has already been recognized by the Air transport Action Group (ATAG), a coalition of organisations within the global air transport industry, as one of the 100 best aviation climate solutions in the world. Global aviation accounts for approximately 2% of the world’s human induced carbon emissions, making it increasingly vital for airlines to actively seek out methods to promote conservation and reduce their carbon footprint.
SriLankan works closely in its wide ranging conservation efforts with a number of conservation-specialised organisations including Whale & Dolphin Conservation (WDC), Biodiversity Sri Lanka and IUCN. It is also part of IATA’s ʻUnited for Wildlifeʼ initiative, a landmark worldwide drive to crack down on the illegal global trade in wildlife that has brought many of the world’s rare species close to extinction.
Sri Lanka’s national carrier has a long tradition of actively driving global initiatives for conservation and became the first airline in Asia to introduce the concept of ‘Planet Friendly Flights’ in 2009. Its wide ranging conservation programme is driven by a cross-functional Environmental Working Group that is coordinated by the company’s Environmental Strategic & Compliance Unit, known as ‘The Green Unit.’
In 2016 Business Traveller magazine ranked SriLankan as having the second lowest carbon footprint among airlines in the Asia-Pacific region. IATA has also highlighted SriLankan Airlines as one of the world’s most conservation-minded airlines.
Key components of its conservation programme include maximum fuel efficiency of its fleet, recycling of materials wherever possible, waste management, use of clean energy such as solar and bio-gas, creating public awareness, and promoting ‘green’ endeavors.