By Cailey Rizzo
December 05, 2019

Norwegian Air is the first airline to sign the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) pledge, committing to become climate neutral by 2050.

The Climate Neutral Now pledge has been around since 2015 and has been signed by more than 300 organizations, including Microsoft, Sony and BNP Paribas. Signing the pledge requires organizations to measure and report their greenhouse gas emissions, reduce those emissions “as much as possible,” and to offset any remaining emissions.

"We welcome this initiative by Norwegian to help their customers compensate their emissions when they travel," Niclas Svenningsen, Manager, Global Climate Action, UN Climate Change said in a press release. "Bringing people together is fundamental for global understanding, for the economy, for wellbeing, and for the planet."

The airline signed the pledge on Monday.

Additionally, Part of Norwegian’s approach to reducing their climate impact is a step in the booking process wherein passengers can see their flight’s carbon emissions and purchase offsets with their ticket. Customers who choose to purchase offsets will fund “carefully selected CO2-reducing clean energy projects in regions Norwegian serves,” according to the airline.

Credit: NurPhoto/Getty Images

Over the past 10 years, the airline has “reduced its emissions by 30 percent per passenger kilometer” by operating “more fuel-efficient aircraft.”

The projects are certified by Gold Standard, a company that works to improve the efficacy of climate-base projects.

There is some criticism of the United Nation’s approach towards climate change. The plan hinges almost entirely upon carbon offsets, which are of debatable environmental impact. As world leaders meet in Madrid for the UN climate change conference this week, critics question the value of carbon offsets as a long-term climate strategy.

Many of these projects focus on replanting trees, but there is no way of ensuring that these newly-planted trees are not harvested later. Or, as seen in the case of Brazil earlier this year, those trees are not burned down.

Other airlines including easyJet, Ryanair, Qantas Airlines, British Airways, and Air France have committed to producing net zero emissions.