Carbon offsetting - FAQs

All your questions about the Qantas Freight carbon offsetting program answered.

How does flying affect the environment? 

As planes fly, they burn fuel which releases greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases block heat from escaping Earth’s atmosphere which leads to increased temperatures and changes in climate. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicates that aviation contributes around 3% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions. 

What is carbon offsetting?

Carbon offsetting allows individuals and businesses to reduce their environmental impact. By purchasing carbon offsets, customers support environmental projects that remove greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere (such as planting forests), or prevent future emissions from occurring (such as replacing a coal-fired power station with a wind farm). 

What is a carbon offset? 

One carbon offset represents one metric tonne of greenhouse gas emissions reduced or removed from the atmosphere. 

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Why do we only refer to carbon?

There are seven main greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbon, hydrofluorocarbon, sulfur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride. 

Each greenhouse gas has a different impact on climate, called the global-warming potential (GWP). For instance, methane’s GWP is 25 while nitrous oxide’s GWP is 298. We convert the amount of each greenhouse gas into the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide with the same GWP. This is called the carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) and makes it possible to measure the greenhouse gases and determine their individual and combined contributions to global warming. This is why carbon offsetting is typically transacted in ‘carbon’ or CO2e.

How are my freight emissions calculated? 

Emissions are calculated using TEM’s BlueHalo® technology. The BlueHalo® software uses the current UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) international standards to convert greenhouse gas emissions associated with your cargo such as aircraft type, distance travelled and litres of fuel used, to tonnes of CO2e. The BlueHalo® calculations are continually updated as best practice international standards for greenhouse gas calculations evolve.

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How often are the carbon calculations updated?

The BlueHalo® software is instantly updated with the most up-to-date emissions factors as they are published by the various agencies, including DEFRA. BlueHalo® also adds new routes as they are added or changed by SIA.

How do you work out the routing of flights if you are provided only with start and end points?

BlueHalo® has a sophisticated algorithm that assesses each flight pair and routes it through realistic layovers. This calculation takes into account the carrier, its alliances and other factors.

How do you calculate the emissions factors for airfreight?

We utilise the average flight factors published in the 2020 UK Government Carbon Emissions Factors documentation, commonly referred to as DEFRA factors.

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How does DEFRA come up with its factors?

The DEFRA aircraft emissions factor approach is consistent across passenger and freight calculations. The approach is based on real world data that is then passed through an emissions calculation tool from which average factors are derived.

Who is TEM?

TEM is Asia-Pacific’s largest carbon offset provider dedicated to connecting businesses and consumers with taking action on climate change. TEM provides Qantas Freight with its BlueHalo® digital platform which allows instant calculation of cargo flight emissions and the offset of those emissions via the website.

How do you know the offset is really happening?

The Qantas Group only purchases carbon offsets from projects that are verified at the highest international standards. Projects are verified by an independent third-party like the Verified Carbon Standard Program and the Gold Standard who ensure each project meets strict criteria to deliver measurable and permanent emissions reductions additional to a business-as-usual scenario. Following compliance with the relevant third-party, the project is then issued with carbon offsets, each with a unique serial number. For instance, if the project demonstrated a reduction in emissions of 1000 tonnes, they would be issued with 1000 carbon offsets. 

Once carbon offsets are purchased from a project, they are then retired, ensuring the offset cannot be traded again, and completing the carbon offset cycle for the customer.

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Which offset projects does my contribution support?

The Qantas Group purchases carbon offsets from a carefully selected portfolio of projects that remove greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere, or prevent future emissions from occurring.

Our portfolio of projects includes:

  • A 100% Aboriginal-owned cool fire project in Arnhem Land. Managed by a collection of Aboriginal rangers, the traditional fire management program drastically reduces emissions while protecting biodiversity and culturally significant sites from destructive wildfires.

Why can’t I choose my own carbon offset project to direct my contribution towards?

To secure a long-term supply of premium carbon offsets at a consistent price, the Qantas Group purchase from a portfolio of accredited projects. We support projects such as renewable energy in emerging economies, forest restoration initiatives and the distribution of clean cookstoves. By supporting an entire ecosystem of projects, we’re leveraging our environmental and social impact and helping educate our customers on the additional benefits sustained by taking action on climate change.

Does Qantas Freight profit from this programme?

No. No part of the Qantas Group profits from the sale of carbon offsets purchased under the carbon offset program. All of the contributions made by customers are used to source carbon offsets from premium projects worldwide.  Administration  fees are included to carry out due diligence of sourcing and supplying carbon offsets including managing the offset retirement process and all carbon accounting.

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Find out more about the program here.