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A United Boeing 737 rotating out of Washington Dulles. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Peter Weiland)

United Airlines Launches First-Of-Its-Kind Carbon Reduction Alliance

Over the years, United Airlines has made significant efforts in decarbonizing the airline industry. In 2015, the carrier invested $30 million into Fulcrum BioEnergy, an alternative fuels developer in the United States, which converts municipal solid waste into low-cost sustainable aviation biofuel. The investment was the single largest of any airline in the industry at the time and demonstrated United’s commitment to advancing the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Now, United has made another leap in lessening its carbon footprint – the launch of its Eco-Skies Alliance program.

Eco-Skies Alliance Program

On Tuesday, United announced its new environmental program, the Eco-Skies Alliance. The program will be a collective effort by United and dozens of leading global corporations in purchasing 3.4 million gallons of SAF by the end of 2021. The biofuel is highly effective, emitting 80% less carbon than traditional jet fuel on a lifecycle basis. This reduction equates to approximately 31,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, enough to fly passengers more than 220 million miles.

The Eco-Skies Alliance is the first of its kind and includes corporations across the globe. The participation of these companies will reduce the aviation-related environmental impact of their respective industries. It will also promote the production of biofuel and lead to an increase in demand for SAF. The inaugural companies are:

  • Autodesk
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • CEVA Logistics
  • Deloitte
  • DHL Global Forwarding
  • DSV Panalpina
  • HP Inc.
  • Nike
  • Palantir
  • Siemens
  • Takeda Pharmaceuticals

World Energy, a long-time partner of United, will deliver the SAF to Los Angeles International Airport for use by the airline. World Energy has been supplying SAF for United since 2016, and the airline is the first and only U.S. carrier to consistently use sustainable biofuel in its regular operations. 

United CEO Scott Kirby explained that this is “just the beginning” of the airline’s carbon offset projects. He said, “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.

“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,” Kirby continued.

Corporate Customers Can Contribute to Eco-Skies Alliance

Not only did United create a first-of-its-kind carbon reduction program, but it has also developed a way for corporate customers to get involved in the project, too. Starting immediately, companies can join United’s Eco-Skies Alliance and pay the additional cost for SAF. According to United, “This contribution goes beyond traditional carbon offsets and will show there is demand for low emissions fuel solutions.” 

In addition to corporate partnerships, United has also committed to connecting individuals with elected representatives to voice their SAF opinions. It will allow regular citizens to speak with policymakers to help “advance and accelerate permanent, scalable solutions that hold the potential to decarbonize the air transportation industry – and not just offset emissions.”

Kirby voiced his support for long-term sustainability, “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.”

Companies that want to reduce their carbon footprint on United flights and individuals that wish to contact their representatives can do so on the airline’s website.

Taylor Rains
Taylor Rains
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