China Eastern Airlines is a majority state-owned company headquartered in China. In 2021 its revenue was USD 9.73 billion. China Eastern Airlines is one of the "Big Three" airlines of the People's Republic of China, operating international, domestic and regional routes. China Eastern Airlines is amongst the top 10 airline groups by passenger numbers.
China Eastern has not set any emission reduction targets, although the company is improving aircraft efficiency and reducing fuel consumption as part of its environmental commitments. The company has not developed a vision of what its business will look like in a low-carbon future. The company should set both short and medium-term targets to drive ongoing accountability for managing emissions and long-term targets to guide strategic decisions.
Although between 2017 and 2019 the company’s emissions intensity started to slowly decrease, China Eastern saw a significant drop in activity levels and an increase in its scope 1 emissions intensity in 2020. This increase in emissions intensity is due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the transport industry. China Eastern’s 1.5°C pathway requires the company to make substantial decreases in its emissions intensity, the company is required to reduce its scope 1 emission intensity by 4% per year to meet its 1.5°C pathway. Additionally, China Eastern’s fleet locked-in emissions between 2022 and 2036 are projected to greatly exceed its total 1.5°C carbon budget for the period.
There is no evidence that China Eastern has a low-carbon transition plan. It currently undertakes the minimum required to comply with climate regulation. The company’s actions are driven by wider industry trends and the ‘dual carbon’ goal of the Chinese government. This goal defines 2030 as the year of peak emissions and prescribes carbon neutrality for Chinese companies by 2060 at the latest. The company should establish a time-bound action plan that outlines how it will transition to a low-carbon economy. This should include medium and long-term targets, verifiable and quantifiable key performance indicators and financial commitments. The plan should be informed by climate scenario analysis to ensure that its ambition aligns with a 1.5°C pathway.
The remuneration policy links the remuneration of directors and their performance to the objectives of the company which are focusing on financial performance and growing the business. China Eastern does not incentivise low-carbon performance through executive compensation. The company can improve the likelihood of a successful low-carbon transition by aligning its incentives with its decarbonisation commitments.
China Eastern Airlines Corp receives a trend score of -. If the company were reassessed in the near future, its score would likely decrease. China Eastern’s emissions intensity for 2021 is higher than the intensity required by the company’s 1.5°C scenario, although the value is skewed by the impact of COVID-19. Even if the company continued its pre-pandemic trend of reductions (about 2% annually) it would not align with its pathway. In principle, China Eastern is aligned with IATA and ICAO regarding carbon neutrality but has not set any emissions targets. There is no evidence that China Eastern has a low-carbon transition plan.
China Eastern aims to improve aircraft efficiency and fuel economy as part of its environmental commitments. However, the company has not set any emission reduction targets. The company has not developed a vision, qualitative or quantitative, of what its business will look like in a low-carbon future.
China Eastern plans to reduce its emissions via flight optimisation, reducing aircraft weight and purchasing aircraft with better energy efficiency. The company’s decarbonisation actions are driven by industry targets and the ‘dual carbon’ goal of the Chinese government. However, it does not have a low-carbon transition plan of its own.
In 2021, China Eastern purchased 33 new aircraft with better fuel consumption performance and invested USD 8.4 million in research and development (R&D). It did not disclose how much of this was on low-carbon technologies. It conducts research with the Civil Aviation Administration on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) use.
China Eastern has limited engagement with customers regarding demand reduction. It made no financial commitment to increase the proportion of low-carbon vehicles in its fleet. The company’s recent emissions trends and lack of transition planning show little evidence of how it will achieve the ICAO’s 2050 target and the Chinese government’s ‘dual carbon’ goal.
No evidence was found of the company’s commitment to social dialogue or of the categories of stakeholders the company engages with on a just transition. Furthermore, no evidence was found to demonstrate the company’s ongoing social dialogue and meaningful engagement with affected stakeholders.
No evidence was found of the company undertaking low-carbon transition planning to mitigate the social impacts of the transition on workers, affected stakeholders and its business relationships. Additionally, no evidence was found to demonstrate the company’s engagement in social dialogue and with stakeholders in its just transition planning.
No public commitment by the company was found stating its intention to create and support access to green and decent jobs as part of the low-carbon transition. Moreover, no evidence was found of the company’s action to promote these jobs in a way that ensures gender balance and inclusion of vulnerable groups. Additionally, no relevant disclosure was found of the company’s assessment of employment dislocation risks.
No public commitment by the company was found stating its intention to re- and up-skill workers displaced by the transition to a low-carbon economy. Additionally, no evidence was found that the company re- and up-skills workers in a way that ensures gender balance and inclusion of vulnerable groups.
No relevant disclosure was found to show if the company identifies impacts of the low-carbon transition on social protection for workers and affected stakeholders, nor how it contributes to social protection. Additionally, no evidence was found that the company expects its business relationships to contribute to the social protection of their workers and affected stakeholders.
No relevant disclosure was found to show how the company identifies any misalignment of its lobbying activities with policies and regulations that support the just transition, nor of the measures it takes to address misalignment. Furthermore, no evidence was found that the company lobbies for policies and regulations for green and decent job creation; retention, education and reskilling; and social protection for workers.
No policies or commitments of the company related to respect for human rights were found in the public domain. This includes the necessary policies and systems by which the company can ensure respect for basic human rights in its operations and supply chain.
While the company publishes some workforce diversity fundamentals, namely the age and gender of its workforce by employee category, no other evidence of the company’s policies or commitments related to key decent work issues were found in the public domain. These issues include the provision of secure, safe and healthy workplaces, where workers are fairly remunerated and have a meaningful say in decision-making.
No policies or commitments of the company related to key ethical business topics – personal data protection, tax, bribery and corruption, and lobbying and political engagement – were found in the public domain. This includes ensuring ethical business conduct throughout its operations and in its relationships with business partners.