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Aviation body targets 1 billion passengers on sustainably-fueled flights

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) wants 1 billion passengers to fly on trips powered by a combination of jet fuel and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2025.

The announcement, on Monday, came 10 years after a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 completed a trip from London to Amsterdam powered by SAF in one of its engines. The IATA said that a flight powered solely by sustainable fuel had the potential to cut its carbon emissions by as much as 80 percent.

The number of commercial flights using SAF – which can be produced from a range of sources, including domestic waste – has increased rapidly, from one in 2008 to 3,000 in 2013 and more than 100,000 last year.

“The momentum for sustainable aviation fuels is now unstoppable,” IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre De Juniac said in a statement. “From one flight in 2008, we passed the threshold of 100,000 flights in 2017 and we expect to hit 1 million flights during 2020.”

This, De Juniac added, was still a “drop in the ocean” when compared with the organization’s target for 1 billion passengers to have flown on a SAF-blended flight by 2025. “We need governments to set a framework to incentivize production of SAF and ensure it is as attractive to produce as automotive biofuels,” he said.

The IATA, which represents airlines accounting for 83 percent of worldwide air traffic, said that airports in Los Angeles, Stockholm, Oslo and Brisbane were already combining SAF with general fuel supplies.

It added that it would seek to use sustainable sources for the alternative fuels it uses. “The airline industry is clear, united and adamant that we will never use a sustainable fuel that upsets the ecological balance of the planet or depletes its natural resources,” De Juniac said.

The environmental impact of aviation is a pressing concern. In the European Union, for instance, direct emissions from aircraft represent around 3 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the European Commission.

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AFRM starts trading on Nasdaq

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Affirm Holdings Inc. website home screen on a laptop computer in an arranged photograph taken in Little Falls, New Jersey, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020.

Gabby Jones | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Shares of payments company Affirm soared more than 103% in its initial public offering on the Nasdaq, kicking off what’s likely to be a busy season for market debuts.

The stock began trading at $90.90 per share. Affirm had priced its shares at $49 apiece, above its target range of $41 to $44 each.

Founded in 2013 by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, Affirm has become prominent in the “buy now pay later” space that offers point-of-sale loans. The company allows customers to finance online purchases that can be paid back in monthly installments without accruing compounding interest. 

It works with around 6,500 retailers, including PelotonWayfairWalmart and direct-to-consumer eyeglasses company Warby Parker. In an update to its IPO filing, Affirm said it is used by more than 6.2 million people. Affirm also partnered with Shopify last year, allowing merchants to offer installment loans on products they sell.

Affirm brought in roughly $510 million in revenue for the fiscal year ended on June 30, a 93% jump from last year, according to its filings. In the three months ending Sept. 30, revenue grew 98% year over year, while net losses fell by roughly half to $15.3 million.

Affirm makes money when it helps a merchant make a sale. It also earns interest income on loans it buys from bank partners and some consumer loans. The rate it charges varies by consumers’ creditworthiness, but often starts at 0%.

“Our goal is to be a viable alternative to credit cards,” Levchin told CNBC ahead of the company’s first trade.

Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Allen & Co were the lead underwriters for the offering. Major investors include Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Funds.

Affirm’s market debut could mark another successful venture for Levchin, who owns 27.5 million shares in the online lender. Following PayPal’s sale to eBay in 2002, Levchin started the social application company Slide. That sold to Google in 2010 for a reported $182 million. 

Affirm, which trades under the symbol AFRM, has made CNBC’s Disruptor 50 list twice.

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Italy’s government in crisis after former PM pulls support

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Italian current Senator, former premier and head of the political party ‘Italia Viva’ (IV), Matteo Renzi holds a press conference on January 13, 2021 at the Italian Chamber of Deputies in Rome.

ALBERTO PIZZOLI | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON — Italy’s former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Wednesday announced his intention to pull his centrist party out of the ruling coalition, plunging the country back into political chaos as it battles a resurgence of the coronavirus.

Speaking at a highly-anticipated press conference, Renzi said two ministers from his Italia Viva party would resign. It leaves the government without a majority in parliament and on the brink of collapse.

Support from Renzi’s party had been critical to the survival of the coalition led by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the center-left Democratic Party.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he hoped Renzi would not pull his ministers from the Cabinet, warning the country would not be able to understand why the government had collapsed amid the ongoing health crisis.

The Five Star Movement and Democratic Party had also urged Renzi to preserve the unity of the ruling government at a time when the country is trying to get citizens vaccinated and prevent the economy from deteriorating even further.

The southern European nation is no stranger to political conflicts, tensions and scandals. Slim majorities in Rome have led to more than 60 governments since World War II.

However, the latest political dispute is coming at a particularly painful moment, with the number of coronavirus infections and deaths in Italy currently among the highest in Europe. The new disagreement centers on EU funds and how they will relaunch the Italian economy after the pandemic.

To date, Italy has recorded 2.3 million Covid-19 cases and 79,819 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The country’s gross domestic product is predicted to fall by around 10% in 2020.

This is a breaking news story, please check back later for more.

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House to impeach Donald Trump for inciting U.S. Capitol riot

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