We are trans­forming into a carbon manage­ment platform for air travel

Oncarbon is launching a new product offering – carbon management solutions for travel products, offering SAF credits and high permanence carbon withdrawal credits. Here is what stands behind this pivot.
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Written by Team Oncarbon
Carbon management platform for air travel, API-first
October 19, 2022

Since our founding in 2021, we have talked a lot about the need for more open communication about the environmental costs of travel, and flight emissions in particular. We wanted to help forward-thinking travel companies and airlines calculate and communicate the carbon footprint of their products. That's because we see transparency as the first step in minimizing the harmful impacts of travel, and a push for better supply and demand for low-emission travel products.

Today, we are expanding our offering. We have decided to add new features to our core product, the flight emissions calculator and the solution for communicating these emissions. From now on, we will also offer carbon management tools to our customers, and we are building a buy-and-claim marketplace for non-fossil aviation fuels which is aimed in the first phase to help companies reduce their Scope 3 emissions from business travel.

We see this as a natural step in our evolution and a tangible way to minimize the harmful impacts of travel. Most airlines have committed to achieving a net-zero target by 2050, and some have already implemented significant changes to avoid and reduce emissions. We want to help them achieve their goals and provide verified solutions that will bring us all closer to carbon neutral flights in the future. On the other hand, we want to address the needs of climate-conscious passengers who are looking for concrete ways to reduce and offset their carbon footprint.

Oncarbon’s new product offering

Our new solution adds two carbon management tools to our core product: Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) credits and high permanence carbon withdrawal credits. Our customers – airlines and travel agencies – will be able offer their passengers options to buy quality carbon withdrawal credits with high permanence and Sustainable Aviation Fuel credits at a predetermined price. When purchasing an airline ticket, passengers will be able to decide how much they are willing to contribute to reducing their carbon footprint by buying SAF credits and carbon withdrawal credits.

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In this way, we aim to provide airlines and travel agencies with accurate emissions calculations and tangible ways to reduce flight-related emissions. By implementing our solution in their webshops, airlines and travel agencies can better respond to the growing demand for sustainable travel products, and encourage their customers to make conscious travel decisions.

We recommend offering the purchase of SAF as a primary option and the purchase of CO2 offsets as a secondary option. Indeed, we believe that the aviation industry can achieve its net zero goals through a three-step approach: Avoiding emissions, reducing emissions wherever possible, and offsetting the remaining emissions when they cannot be avoided. Unfortunately today, much of the “sustainability” work in the air travel space is based primarily on (low-quality) carbon offsetting; we want to change that.

More than just carbon offsets

We decided to introduce two options, and to recommend the purchase of SAFs first, because we recognize that carbon offsets alone will not be sufficient to address the scale of global emissions reductions. As we have previously emphasized, offsets should be a complement to – not a substitute for – emissions reductions.

We are also aware of the general critical view of carbon offsets and the doubts about their effectiveness, and we do not want to see them as a carte blanche to make a flight “carbon neutral” (in quotation marks). At Oncarbon, we believe that a passenger who purchases carbon withdrawal credits has a right to know how much CO2 was actually removed and what percentage of the flight was offset. And it is by no means possible that it is €5 or €10 or €2, as suggested by some compensation schemes.

We have adopted a rigorous offset calculation scheme, according to our best knowledge and expertise, and want to focus on high-quality CO2 removal projects – not just any offsetting projects. Properly designed, transparent and rigorous offset projects could be a useful tool to compensate for the damage that aviation causes to the environment – if we admit to that damage in the first place.

The aviation industry is responsible for 3.5% of greenhouse gas emissions – and even more of atmospheric heating. In the foreseeable future, we will not be able to talk about “carbon neutral” or “sustainable” flights, but we can openly communicate what emissions are produced by flying and how they can be reduced and managed. With greenwashing in full swing, consumers often do not know which products have the lowest emissions, and they have a hard time trusting manufacturers who quote their own numbers without third-party verification. We provide answers to these challenges – but we do not want to stop there.

A marketplace for non-fossil aviation fuels

We have ambitious goals of building an innovative buy-and-claim marketplace for non-fossil aviation fuels, and expanding our offering is an important step towards this goal. If the aviation industry is supposed to reach a net zero emissions target in 2050, non-fossil jet fuel will play a major part in this process. According to experts, 65% of the emissions reductions will need to come from replacing the jet fuel used today with sustainable jet fuel – especially as the number of air travelers is growing rapidly and air travel is expected to reach 10 billion passenger trips per year by 2050.

Bio-based SAFs today are a cleaner alternative to conventional jet fuel, and experts say they can reduce lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional jet fuel. Most SAFs produced today are a “drop-in” solution, which means that airlines can blend them with conventional fuel, without the need for new investments or major engine modifications. And although their usage is limited today – mostly by costs, the market is projected to grow in the coming years, and the technology development will likely make the production widespread.

The future of synthetic e-fuels

Today, SAF can be broadly divided into two types: Biofuels, which are largely produced from renewable bio-feedstocks (corn, rapeseed, or palm oil) or waste from other production processes (used cooking oils, food waste, or other bio-based solid waste), and synthetic fuels (or e-fuels). In e-fuels, we see the future of non-fossil fuels, as their production can be truly sustainable and carbon neutral.

By becoming a buy-and-claim marketplace for these fuels, we aim to better meet the needs of our customers. With the Oncarbon solution, airlines and travel agencies can gain investor confidence, increase customer loyalty, meet regulatory requirements, and differentiate themselves from increasing competition through meaningful carbon management solutions. They will position themselves as leaders in the industry and be perceived as environmentally conscious – without the accusation of greenwashing. We hope this will lead us all to a better future, where “sustainable travel” will not be an empty slogan but a reality.

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Picture on the cover: USGS/Unsplash

Team Oncarbon
We’re on the mission to show you that we need – and we can – travel more consciously. We bring closer to you the topics of carbon footprint, sustainable travel and aviation, and transparency in emissions reporting.