Date: April 13, 2021
Source: United Airlines
United Airlines has partnered with global firms including Nike Inc and Siemens AG in an "Eco-Skies Alliance" to finance the use this year of about 3.4 million gallons of low-carbon, sustainable aviation fuel derived from waste. This is a three-fold increase but still paltry compared with the 4.3 billion gallons of jet fuel that United consumed in 2019 prior to the pandemic. Air transport accounts for 2%-3% of greenhouse gas emissions, though some say its higher and to address this, airlines have been using sustainable fuel since 2008.
Sustainable jet fuel comes from waste gasification (pyrolysis) that involves extreme heat, steam, and oxygen to break it down into hydrogen and carbon monoxide which are later refined (Fischer-Tropsch) into greener fuels, including biofuels and emissions-free hydrogen.
April 13, 2021
United Airlines to Lead Industry Switch to Sustainable Aviation Fuel with Global Corporations, Customers
New United Eco-Skies Alliance Program includes global corporate leaders who, with United, will pay towards more sustainable aviation fuel, all companies invited to participate
CHICAGO, April 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines continues to lead the industry towards a more sustainable future with the launch of the first-of-its-kind Eco-Skies Alliance SM program. Working with the airline, more than a dozen leading global corporations will collectively contribute towards the purchase of approximately 3.4 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) this year. With its nearly 80% emissions reductions on a lifecycle basis compared to conventional jet fuel, this is enough SAF to eliminate approximately 31,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, or enough to fly passengers over 220 million miles.
As inaugural participants, the following companies are taking a lead within their respective industries, reducing their aviation-related impact on the environment at the source, and creating demand for more SAF production.
Boston Consulting Group
DHL Global Forwarding
"While we've partnered with companies for years to help them offset their flight emissions, we applaud those participating in the Eco-Skies Alliance for recognizing the need to go beyond carbon offsets and support SAF-powered flying, which will lead to more affordable supply and ultimately, lower emissions," said United CEO Scott Kirby. "This is just the beginning. Our goal is to add more companies to the Eco-Skies Alliance program, purchase more SAF and work across industries to find other innovative paths towards decarbonization."
United has made the airline industry's single largest investment in SAF and has purchased more SAF than any other airline in the world. World Energy, a long-term partner of United, will supply the SAF to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), which makes it conveniently accessible to United's operations.
Customers traveling with United can now purchase SAF
In addition to the Eco-Skies Alliance program, United is giving customers the ability to contribute funds for additional SAF purchase or for use on initiatives United believes will help decarbonize aviation — the first of any U.S. airline to do so. Understanding there is a growing interest among customers for real, lasting solutions, this new capability will be available starting immediately via portal on united.com/ecoskiesalliance.
Advocating for sustainable travel, together with United
Strong federal and state policy leadership will be essential to reducing the climate impacts of air travel, so starting immediately United will help individuals connect with elected representatives to advocate for policies that would make air travel more sustainable for the long term. United will be the first airline in the world to connect customers directly with policy makers to voice the support that is needed to advance and accelerate permanent, scalable solutions that hold the potential to decarbonize the air transportation industry — and not just offset emissions.
"We know there is a growing demand from a wide range of our customers including corporations, cargo shippers and individuals who share the same concern we do — that climate change is the most pressing issue of our generation," Kirby said.
United's 100% Green Commitment
At United, we believe the airline industry needs to be bolder when it comes to making decisions that confront the climate crisis. That's why we've committed to become 100% green and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions 100% by 2050 by taking the harder, better path of reducing emissions from flying, rather than relying on traditional carbon offsets.
Here are some of the ways we're making sustainability the new standard in flight:
In February 2021, we announced an agreement to work with Archer Aviation to accelerate the development and production of their electric aircraft — an urban mobility solution that has the potential to serve as an 'air taxi,' giving United customers another opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint before they even board a United flight.
In 2020, we became the first airline to announce a commitment to invest in carbon capture and sequestration by committing to a multimillion-dollar investment in 1PointFive, a joint venture between Oxy Low Carbon Ventures and Rusheen Capital that plans to build the first industrial-sized Direct Air Capture plant in the United States. A single plant is expected to capture and permanently sequester one million tons of CO2 each year, the equivalent of the work of 40 million trees, but covering a land area about 3,000 times smaller.
In 2019, we committed $40 million toward an investment initiative focused on accelerating the development of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and other decarbonization technologies. That same year, we operated the Flight for the Planet, which represented the most-eco-friendly commercial flight of its kind in the history of commercial aviation.
In 2018, we became the first U.S. airline to commit to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions—50% by 2050.
In 2016, we became the first airline globally to use SAF in regular operations on a continuous basis with SAF from World Energy.
In 2015, we invested $30 million in Fulcrum BioEnergy, a SAF producer that converts trash to low-carbon jet fuel, the largest investment by any airline in a SAF producer. Through the associated purchase agreement, United has nearly half the global airline industry's publicly announced commitments for SAF.
United's Award-Winning Eco-Skies Program
United's award-winning Eco-Skies® program represents the company's commitment to the environment and the actions taken every day to create a more sustainable future. The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) named United as the only airline globally to its 2020 Climate 'A List' for the airline's actions to cut emissions, mitigate climate risks and develop the low-carbon economy, marking the seventh consecutive year that United had the highest CDP score among U.S. airlines.
In 2017, Air Transport World magazine named United its Eco-Airline of the Year for the second time since the airline launched the Eco-Skies program. Additionally, United ranked No. 1 among global carriers inNewsweek's2017 Global 500 Green Rankings, one of the most recognized environmental performance assessments of the world's largest publicly traded companies. For more information on United's commitment to environmental sustainability, visit united.com/sustainability.
United's shared purpose is "Connecting People. Uniting the World." For more information, visit united.com, follow @United on Twitter and Instagram or connect on Facebook. The common stock of UAL is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol "UAL."