• Gennette Cordova

Delta commits $1 billion to carbon neutrality

Delta Air Lines announced today that it will spend $1 billion in the next 10 years to go carbon neutral both in the air and on the ground.

In one of the most aggressive sustainability plans put forth by a U.S. airline, Delta says it will work toward canceling out emissions from its flights and ground operations, beginning March 1. Its stated areas of focus are carbon reduction through a decrease in jet fuel use and an increase efficiency; removing carbon from the air with carbon capture technology; and advancing carbon reduction goals through engagement with stakeholders and investors.

The new commitment builds on previous efforts by Delta and other airlines to answer calls for sustainability in aviation. Its already announced efforts include the addition of more than 80 new aircraft that are 25% more fuel efficient than the fleet the airline is replacing and, more recently, entering into some of the largest airline offtake agreements of their kind to purchase sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from Northwest Advanced Bio-Fuels and Gevo. The carrier still expects to utilize conventional fuel across its aircraft fleet, however.

“We will continue to use jet fuel for as far as the eye can see,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian told CNBC in a video interview. “We’ll be investing in technologies to reduce the impact of jet fuel, but I don’t ever see a future that we’re eliminating jet fuel from our footprint.”

Eight years ago, Delta became the first U.S. airline to voluntarily cap greenhouse gas emissions at 2012 levels, approximately 40 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. Although the aviation sector only accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide emitted by airlines increased by 32% from 2013 to 2018, according to a study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). The ICCT now projects that “emissions from international aviation will triple under business as usual by 2050.”

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