Starting March 1, 2020, Delta Air Lines 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 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’s CEO, in a statement. “The time is now to accelerate our investments and establish an ambitious commitment that the entire Delta team will deliver.”
“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 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Delta’s carbon footprint is its largest environmental impact, with 98 percent of emissions coming from its aircraft. It plans to become carbon neutral by decreasing the use of jet fuel and increasing efficiency. This will be achieved with a fleet renewal program, improved flight operations, weight reduction, and increased development and use of sustainable aviation fuels.
Delta also plans to invest in technology to remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere and investigate carbon removal opportunities through forestry, wetland restoration, grassland conservation, marine and soil capture, and other negative emissions technologies.
Building coalitions with employees, suppliers, global partners, customers, industry colleagues, investors and other stakeholders to advance carbon reduction and removal goals and maximize its goals is also part of the plan.
“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 organizations to explore similar options to address their own carbon footprint, 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.
Delta’s journey to carbon neutrality and its $1 billion investment build on the sustainability efforts it already has in place. 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, Delta has been undertaking a multi-year effort to achieve more sustainable air travel.
As part of its commitment, 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.