Written by Toby Edwards, Victor Co-CEO
A constant since we were founded in 2011 has been our commitment to transparency. Transparency in how we interact with our customers and more recently in relation to our carbon footprint.
Admittedly, we have not always prioritised climate change, however since the public launch of our carbon reduction programme in April 2018 and it’s acceleration in 2019, we have been very open about our impact on the environment. In fact, our emissions reductions have been independently audited by Cooper Parry and our 2020 carbon impact is available to view here. We invest in nature-based carbon reduction projects across the globe in partnership with Vertis and South Pole, which are Gold Standard or Voluntary Carbon Standard accredited
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is not something aviation companies can avoid any longer, and as Bill Gates wrote in his new book – “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” – preventing the worst effects of climate change by stopping emissions will be especially difficult for industries like aviation.
At Victor, we recognise that offsetting our flights by 200% is not the silver bullet, but it does provide a known, actionable pathway until the other green aviation options that we are all anticipating, are safe and viable. A transparent climate action policy that requires regular reporting and auditing of our investment into nature-based projects evidences our drive and action to try and do things better.
What I struggle with is how well-known brands actively market their climate strategy but at the same time promote Bitcoin, given its present impact on the environment. It seems they are conflicted in their purpose.
Putting aside the effort required to convince sceptics that offsetting can be credible when done properly, the challenge to be net zero plus is big enough as it is, without adding the Known Unknown carbon footprint of bitcoin.
I am sceptical of how, in this day and age, a billion-dollar value company, that believes the faster the world stops relying on fossil fuels and moves towards a zero-emission future the better, can also openly promote bitcoin on its balance sheet. Even if you accept the arguments that bitcoin may eventually lead to further innovation in the production of green electricity, it is indisputable that reducing emissions from heating homes and transportation must take precedent. Bitcoin makes a mockery of promoting a carbon reduction strategy and will only encourage other brands to be equally feeble with their carbon reduction commitment.
“Bitcoin uses more electricity per transaction than any other method known to mankind” according to Bill Gates.
“an extremely inefficient way to conduct transactions… the amount of energy consumed in processing those transactions is staggering“, says Janet Yellen.
We are missing the point if we think that Bitcoin mining could be powered by green electricity, when there are so many more pressing demands to phase out the existing demand for fossil fuel. Cambridge researchers say it consumes over 120 terawatt-hours a year (more energy than Argentina consumes annually).
Building a more sustainable future for the aviation industry is already a big enough task without adding the environmental impact of bitcoin. Furthermore, and rightly so, the scepticism and accusations that ‘offsetting is greenwashing’, none more so than in aviation, will only increase if we openly promote bitcoin transactions.
Euro, Sterling, and the US Dollar are working well enough. I rather we focus on our mitigation actions, disclosing our actual carbon impact and committing to providing greater transparency in order to bring the entire industry with us on the journey to a lower carbon future for aviation.
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