United Airlines eyes carbon neutrality by 2050

11 Dec 2020 by Samuel Chan
United Airlines

United Airlines has announced it will become carbon neutral by 2050. The Star Alliance member said it plans to achieve this goal by making investments in carbon capture technology and sustainable aviation fuel.

Unlike industry peers, such as Delta and Etihad, which earlier this year made similar carbon-neutral commitments, United’s approach does not factor in carbon offsetting.

The airline will instead make a “multimillion-dollar investment” in 1PointFive to physically remove carbon dioxide from the air and pump the greenhouse gas underground. 

United’s funding will go towards the construction of a direct-air carbon capture plant in the US, which can extract up to one million tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of 40 million trees.

United Airlines

Scott Kirby, chief executive officer at United, said:

“As the leader of one of the world’s largest airlines, I recognise our responsibility in contributing to fight climate change, as well as our responsibility to solve it.

“These game-changing technologies will significantly reduce our emissions, and measurably reduce the speed of climate change because buying carbon offsets alone is just not enough.

“Perhaps most importantly, we’re not just doing it to meet our own sustainability goal; we’re doing it to drive the positive change our entire industry requires so that every airline can eventually join us and do the same.”

The carrier also plans to continue its investments in sustainable aviation fuel, which reduces lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80 per cent compared to traditional jet fuel. 

United said it has used the most sustainable aviation fuel of any airline worldwide, operating over 215,000 flights with 26 million passengers with the eco-friendly fuel since 2016.

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