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How Carrie Harris is taking British Airways towards net zero via "Flightpath Net Zero" and more
"My motivation is to bring the industry to a point so that the wonders of air travel can be enjoyed without detriment to the climate. My personal mission is to be on course to deliver this by the time I retire – and I don’t want to be too old when I retire! So we need to act quickly." - Carrie Harris, Director of Sustainability at British Airways
In 2021, British Airways (BA) launched a comprehensive sustainability programme called BA Better World. It was developed in recognition of the fact that flying comes at a cost to the environment and that urgent action is required to create a better, more sustainable future. The airline calls it their “most important journey yet”.
The airline has committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 through a clear short-, medium and long-term plan. In the short-term this includes improving operational efficiency, investing in more efficient aircraft, funding carbon offset projects to mitigate emissions on UK domestic flights and progressively introducing sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) using waste feedstocks. In the medium to longer-term BA will invest in the development and scale-up of SAF and new technologies, such as zero emissions hydrogen-powered aircraft and carbon capture technology.
Meet the Changemaker
Carrie Harris is Director of Sustainability at British Airways. She brings rich experience in the field having previously served as Group Sustainability Manager at International Airlines Group (IAG), coordinating sustainability strategy across the Group’s airlines Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, Vueling, and LEVEL. In 2019, she helped deliver the world’s first "Flightpath net zero" programme, making IAG the first airline group worldwide to commit to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
For Carrie, aviation sustainability brings together three of her core passions: respect and awe at the natural world and a deep sense of responsibility to protect it; a love of travel and cultural experiences; and a love of technology and innovation. Speaking of bringing her experience with Flightpath net zero, Carrie says the difference was that they published a quantified pathway on how net zero could be achieved, also a world first.
“This was pivotal in driving sector-wide change, first in the UK, then Europe and the USA, then across our alliance partners in Oneworld, and most recently with the global industry body IATA. The momentum and industry support are now there and we’re hopeful ICAO, the UN body for aviation, will also commit to net zero at its Assembly meeting”, she says.
However, the highlight for Carrie has been launching the BA Better World sustainability programme along with a fresh new brand identity and a special livery aircraft in September 2021.
“Positioning sustainability at the heart of British Airways’ corporate strategy to deliver transformational change in the coming decade and beyond is a dream come true”, she emphasises.
Ultimately, Carrie says it was a massive team effort made possible by clear direction and support from the CEO and Chairman Sean Doyle and involved people across the entire organisation.