Delta commits $1 billion to become ‘world’s first carbon neutral airline’


As part of its $1 billion commitment to the environment, Delta will invest in driving innovation, advancing clean air travel technologies, accelerating the reduction of carbon emissions and waste, and establishing new projects to mitigate the balance of emissions.

Delta Air Lines has announced that it is committing $1 billion over the next 10 years on its journey to mitigate all emissions from its global business going forward. The airline will invest in driving innovation, advancing clean air travel technologies, accelerating the reduction of carbon emissions and waste, and establishing new projects to mitigate the balance of emissions.

Ed Bastian, CEO, Delta Air Lines, said: “There is no substitute for the power that travel has to connect people, which our world needs today more than ever before. As we connect customers around the globe, it is our responsibility to deliver on our promise to bring people together and ensure the utmost care for our environment. The time is now to accelerate our investments and establish an ambitious commitment that the entire Delta team will deliver.”

The aviation industry accounts for roughly 2% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Delta’s carbon footprint is its largest environmental impact, with 98% of emissions coming from its aircraft. The company is focusing on the following efforts to become carbon neutral:

  • Carbon reduction: Reducing Delta’s carbon footprint through enterprise-wide efforts to decrease the use of jet fuel and increase efficiency. Areas of focus include an ambitious fleet renewal programme, improved flight operations, weight reduction, and increased development and use of sustainable aviation fuels.
  • Carbon removal: Investing in innovative projects and technology to remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere that go beyond the airline’s current commitments, and investigating carbon removal opportunities through forestry, wetland restoration, grassland conservation, marine and soil capture, and other negative emissions technologies.
  • Stakeholder engagement: Building coalitions with employees, suppliers, global partners, customers, industry colleagues, investors and other stakeholders to advance carbon reduction and removal goals and maximise its global impact.

“When customers choose to fly Delta, they should feel they’re making a statement about taking care of our planet,” Bastian said. “Our commitment to carbon neutrality means flying with Delta represents far more than a great travel experience – it’s about joining arms to create a better world.”

Delta’s carbon strategy will account for emissions across its business both in the air and on the ground. Delta’s investment will create new projects and methods to reduce its carbon footprint, benefit global communities and make it easier for other organisations to explore similar options to address their own carbon footprints – all while minimising reliance on today’s limited carbon offset markets. To support this strategy, Delta will allocate some of its financial commitment into investment vehicles, including a dedicated fund focused on achieving its carbon neutral ambition.

Going forward, the airline has established the Delta Environmental Sustainability Principles that will guide its efforts to advance its path to carbon neutrality and overall sustainability. These include:

  • Action – Make progress continually by leveraging the tools of today even as we work to drive progress on a global scale. Embed environmental impact as a consideration in every business decision.
  • Innovation – Investigate, enable and advance new projects, innovative technologies and operational efficiencies to substantially reduce and mitigate emissions and its overall environmental footprint.
  • Collaboration – Engage with employees, suppliers, global partners, customers, investors and other stakeholders with the understanding that environmental protection must be a shared goal.
  • Evolution – Evolving and adjusting in response to the latest scientific findings and technological developments.
  • Transparency – Continue to publicly report on its goals and progress, aligned with leading disclosure frameworks and standards, and track efforts and achievements through its robust governance structure.

Delta has been undertaking a multi-year effort to achieve more sustainable air travel, from being the first and only U.S. airline to voluntarily cap greenhouse gas emissions at 2012 levels, to adding more than 80 new aircraft in 2019 in an effort to renew its fleet with aircraft that are 25 percent more fuel efficient than the aircraft they are replacing.

As part of its commitment, the airline has partnered with industry innovators to advance the development and production of sustainable aviation fuels, including its recent partnership and off-take agreements with Northwest Advanced Bio-Fuels and Gevo. The airline has also partnered with the international advocacy organisation Global Citizen on Global Goal Live: The Possible Dream event, to help reach United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, focusing on sustainability, gender equality and human capital. 2020 will see a number of milestones that demonstrate Delta’s progress and commitment.

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