Earth Day 2024: A fresh perspective for Aviation

Words by: Thianna-May Campbell

It’s easy to be a cynic when the media we consume is constantly focused on the doom and gloom of the climate crisis. It often seems as if almost every article, news clip, and social media post on the topic has been designed make us feel hopeless and insignificant about an insurmountable task. We’re constantly told what not to do, what not to eat, how not to travel; And then, once you think you’ve finally grasped the latest list of Dos and Don’ts, the goalposts shift once again. It can feel as if there’s no winning when our lifestyle choices are continually scrutinised.

I uphold the sentiment that although being climate conscious is our duty, it doesn’t need to feel as though we are constantly failing under the weight of an impossible obligation. In my experience, climate action initiatives that are seamless and accessible yield the best results. There are many definitions describing sustainability, but my favourite one is based on the Bruntland report (1987). According to it, sustainability is:

“Development which meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

The term accessibility holds a lot of depth in respect to my own definition of sustainability. While my industry frequently emphasizes making new technologies accessible to broader demographics, there’s a notable oversight when it comes to considering accessibility and sustainability in the priorities set for the emerging generation of aviation professionals. Evaluating our industry’s efforts goes beyond merely investing in technology or pushing forward policies; it entails investing in people and embracing the broader, less tangible aspects.

In order to facilitate meaningful transformation in this hard to abate sector we must prioritise sustainable education and development opportunities for those stepping into aviation. I believe this area deserves a similar degree of effort and resource as we see with technology and legislation. If younger generations can see that we are serious about climate action and can present opportunities to make a real difference, then we stand a much better chance at attracting the very best emerging talent.

Today, I think back to Earth Day 2022 – I was 19 years old with my heart rooted in aviation but my mind on sustainability, finishing my studies and eager to immerse myself in the industry. I was passionate yet conflicted, burdened with the question of where and how to implement my desire to facilitate sustainable practices in aviation.

Much has changed since then, thanks to the outreach of key thought leaders in the private charter industry. It is safe to say that I would have felt lost and conflicted with regards to directing my drive for environmental change without the people who stepped out beyond their day-to-day roles to provide guidance and mentorship.

Since then, I have grown in my career and have been able to celebrate Earth Day as part of the optimistic and motivated Victor team, centering climate action around everything that we do. Stepping up and volunteering to get involved with the next generation isn’t exclusive to qualified educators, and every individual across the industry has the ability to inspire and educate.

However, from this arises the question of how we can advocate for development and share our knowledge without the necessary resources required to effectively support those in the early stages of their career in aviation. As sustainable technology evolves and we are presented with new challenges, surely we can’t expect our future professionals to simply follow our lead if we aren’t providing them with the supplemental education on sustainability and necessary resources. We must ensure that our discussions on sustainability within our industry prioritise investments towards future generations, safeguarding their needs and opportunities for a thriving future.

There’s a notable difference between just implementing the next new sustainable initiative and truly championing climate action initiatives, and I think that Victor is testament of that. It is also worth noting the many things that we, as a niche and nascent sector, are doing right – there are plenty of efforts being made throughout the industry that warrant praise and recognition – after all, earth day is a day to celebrate our progress!

We can marvel at the developments of SAF, and eagerly anticipate growth beyond the incipient stages of hydrogen and eVTOL aircraft, but I assure you that there is no greater joy than knowing that you have actively contributed to equipping the next generation with the tools they need help propel us to a more sustainable future. While it might appear insignificant at the time, engaging with the environmentally conscious younger generation and transforming them into valued stakeholders is an important form of sustainable contribution.

Our “Pay Here, Use There” model presents an innovative approach to enhancing access to SAF purchases. Essentially, it enables consumers to take climate action and credibly reduce the lifecycle carbon emissions of their booking by up to 80%. This fundamental concept can extend beyond SAF to various climate action and sustainability initiatives, especially when it comes to investing in the needs of future generations. By supporting emerging talent in the sector today we will empower the aviation industry with capable individuals who can shape a climate-conscious future for years to come.