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FedEx Pledges To Go Carbon Neutral By 2040

A FedEx 767 rolls out of the hangar (Photo: Boeing)

Memphis-based cargo giant FedEx is the latest airline to join a push by the aviation industry toward environmental responsibility, as the company announced its commitment to make its entire operation worldwide carbon neutral by 2040.

This ambitious target substantially exceeds the objective set for commercial aviation by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which has committed to reducing all carbon dioxide emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2050 and surpass also a similar target announced by United Airlines, which wants to make its operations carbon neutral by the same date.

Delta Air Lines and JetBlue have also made similar announcements, and it is likely that more carriers will follow suit as the IATA-imposed deadline approaches.

A $2 Billion Investment

In order to reach this goal, the delivery services company has pledged over $2 billion of initial investment in three areas: vehicle electrification, sustainable energy and carbon sequestration. Some of these funds will finance the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture, an initiative in cooperation with Yale University to research methods for carbon sequestration initially focusing on helping offset greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to current airline emissions.

“We have a responsibility to take bold action in addressing climate challenges,” said FedEx Chairman and CEO Frederick W. Smith. “This goal builds on our longstanding commitment to sustainability throughout our operations, while at the same time investing in long-term, transformational solutions for FedEx and our entire industry.”

Newer Aircraft, Fuel-Saving and Alternative Fuels

Other initiatives announced by FedEx that pertain to their airline operations include the investment in research for testing alternative fuels in addition to fuel conservation and aircraft modernization. Since 2012, the cargo airline has been running the FedEx Fuel Sense Program, which promotes initiatives designed at reducing fuel consumption. The company says the program has helped save a combined 1.43 billion gallons of jet fuel and avoided 13.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and it will continue to be a part of their plan going forward.

FedEx Express is currently operating over 400 aircraft, including 66 Airbus A300-600RFs and 79 McDonnell Douglas aircraft. The plan is to retire these older aircraft models to move to an all-Boeing fleet by 2024, with the only exceptions of some of the newer McDonnel Douglas MD-11Fs that will be maintained in operation for short-haul routes. The carrier has orders for 32 Boeing 767-300ERF and 13 Boeing 777F currently on the books.

FedEx is also committing to converting its entire 43,000-strong parcel pickup and delivery fleet to zero-emission vehicles by 2030. It will also review its entire range of customer solutions to promote end-to-end sustainability with all its products from carbon-neutral shipping options to sustainable packing solutions. Furthermore, it will promote energy-efficient practices at all its 5,000 facilities worldwide including investments in energy management programs and conversion to renewable energies.

Vanni Gibertini

Author

  • Vanni Gibertini

    Vanni fell in love with commercial aviation during his undergraduate studies in Statistics at the University of Bologna, when he prepared his thesis on the effects of deregulation on the U.S. and European aviation markets. Then he pursued his passion further by obtaining a Master’s Degree in Air Transport Management at Cranfield University in the U.K. followed by holding several management positions at various start-up carriers in Europe (Jet2, SkyEurope, Silverjet). After moving to Canada, he was Business Development Manager for IATA for nine years before turning to his other passion: sports writing.

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