April 05, 2020

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Delta commits USD1 billion over 10 years to become first carbon neutral airline
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Photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines is committing USD1 billion over the next 10 years on its journey to mitigate all emissions from its global business going forward, starting from 1 March 2020. 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.

“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,” said Ed Bastian, Delta CEO. “The time is now to accelerate our investments and establish an ambitious commitment that the entire Delta team will deliver.”

Delta’s approach to tackling carbon reduction and sustainability reflects the focus and rigor it has become known for, and that it used to build a financially secure airline. This announcement comes as Delta paid USD1.6 billion in profit sharing to employees on Valentine’s Day, and reflects its longstanding approach to placing a high value on supporting all stakeholders and communities worldwide.

“There’s no challenge we face that is in greater need of innovation than environmental sustainability, and we know there is no single solution. We are digging deep into the issues, examining every corner of our business, engaging experts, building coalitions, fostering partnerships and driving innovation,” Bastian said. “We are on a journey, and though we don’t have all the answers today, we know that our scale, along with investments of time, talent and resources will bring meaningful impact to the planet and ensure the sustainability of our business for decades to come.”

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. 

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 organizations to explore similar options to address their own carbon footprints – all while minimizing 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.

Here is how the company is focusing its 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 program, 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 our employees, suppliers, global partners, customers, industry colleagues, investors and other stakeholders to advance carbon reduction and removal goals and maximize our global impact.

Delta has been undertaking a multi-year effort to achieve more sustainable air travel. Delta has partnered with industry innovators to advance the development and production of sustainable aviation fuels, including its recent partnership and offtake agreements with Northwest Advanced Bio-Fuels and Gevo. The airline also has partnered with the international advocacy organization 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.

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