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Environmental Responsibility

Civil aviation’s environmental impact primarily comprises emissions from consumption of non-renewable fuels and noise. Aircraft operations often account for more than 95% of the total environmental impact of an airline.

SAS’ environmental responsibility is to comply with relevant legislation as well as to ensure as low as possible total long and short term emissions and other environmental impact.

“Polluter pays” principle

SAS fully endorses the “polluter pays” principle and is prepared to take responsibility for its share. This assumes that any charges imposed on it are based on scientific findings and that the total climate impact of competing modes of transport is taken into consideration.

CO2 vs. nitrogen oxides

To date, the climate impact of air transport has focused on CO2 emissions. However the focus is shifting to also include other climate effects, primarily nitrogen oxides and water vapor. SAS and the airline industry recommend the ECAC’s model of differentiated landing fees based on nitrogen oxide emissions.


Biological diversity is affected by airline operations in different ways. Flight in itself affects biological diversity to a limited extent through emissions, primarily of nitrogen oxides. Other aspects include facilities and the use of airports, which, depending on geographic location and by utilizing large areas, can affect water, flora, fauna and nearby residents.

Airlines purchase services from airports with private or public investors. Every new construction or other change in ground use requires authorization from local authorities. Biological diversity is normally an approval aspect.

Biodiversity, airport concessions and other environmental aspects regarding airport operations are reported in each respective airport’s own sustainability reports.

Aviation industry moving toward zero emissions

SAS intends to be part of a long-term sustainable society and support the International Air Transport Association (IATA) ambition of net zero carbon emissions from commercial flights by 2050. The IATA and the airline industry have agreed on the following joint targets:

  • Improved fuel efficiency by an average of 1.5% annually from 2009 to 2020
  • Carbon-neutral growth from 2020
  • Net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (updated In October 2021)


Our approach on sustainability

Sustainable development is crucial for the society and SAS intends to be at the forefront of bridging the gap to sustainable aviation.

The environmental goals will lay the foundation for ensuring that SAS will be sustainable in the long-term. The work on the necessary measures is a natural, integrated part of the SAS Environmental Programs conducted within the SAS environmental management system certified according to ISO 14001.

The goals are as follows

2025 GOAL

  • 25% lower CO2 emissions compared with 2005 (absolute emissions)

2030 GOALS

  • Sustainable aviation fuel equivalent to SAS' domestic production (on average 18% the last 5 years)
  • 50% noise reduction compared with 2010
  • 100% sustainable materials in the SAS customer offering
  • 100% recycling where possible

Before 2050 GOAL

  • Net zero carbon emissions in line with IATA's updated ambition


During FY2022 it was decided SAS will commit to the Science based targets initiative. The Science-based targets provide companies a clearly-defined path to reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement
goals. For SAS the commitment means to reduce our average carbon intensity by ~35–40% between 2019–2035.