Topline: Delta CEO Ed Bastian told CNBC Friday that the airline will be “fully carbon neutral” by March 1 and will invest $1 billion over the next decade to reduce its environmental impact, with the commitment coming amid global record-breaking temperatures and a projected increase in air travel.
- To achieve carbon neutrality, Delta will spend money on more fuel efficient planes, new sources of fuel and carbon-capture technologies, according to the New York Times.
- Despite the investment, Bastian said Delta will continue to rely on jet fuel: “I don’t ever see a future where we’ll eliminate jet fuel from our footprint.”
- Air travel accounts for 2.5% of global carbon emissions, but that number is projected to triple by 2050, according to the United Nations aviation body.
- According to Reuters, there are not many options for airlines to quickly reduce their carbon footprints, but single-engine taxiing and using lighter materials to build planes are being used to reduce annual emissions by 1 to 2%.
- Technological advancements for aviation, like biofuels or electric planes, are still years, if not decades away from becoming available, according to the BBC.
What we don’t know: The Times questioned the sustainability of purchasing carbon offsets for a decade, and whether Delta’s commitment would outlast any dips in the economy, or if Bastian leaves his role. The BBC reported that carbon offsets are difficult to calculate and that a number of solutions are needed to reduce the environmental impact of commercial airlines.
Big number: 8.2 billion. That’s how many people are projected to fly in 2037, which doubles current levels.
Key background: Instead of flying, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has opted to sail across the world to attend conferences and protests, sparking interest from the public in aviation’s environmental impact. The United Nations has also rolled out an aviation emissions plan for airlines to purchase carbon offsets for all flights beginning this year. And individual airlines have taken steps as well. Before Friday’s announcement, Delta previously committed to cap its emissions to 2012 levels, while JetBlue and Lufthansa have implemented their own carbon offsetting plans, among others.
Tangent: Oil and gas giant BP said Thursday it plans to cut its carbon emissions to zero by 2050. According to the Washington Post, BP’s planned carbon emissions reductions are equal to the U.K.’s own output.