Delta Air Lines Inc (NYSE:DAL) said Friday it's going fully 'carbon neutral' from the beginning of next month and investing US$1 billion over the next decade to reduce its environmental impact — the first airline to make such a pledge.
Georgia-headquartered Delta wants to become the first carbon-neutral carrier globally and help fund research and projects involving clean air technologies.
Shares nudged up 0.17% before the bell in New York to US$59.23.
Airlines account for around 2% of global carbon dioxide emissions which is why there's such controversy surrounding air travel.
Many firms have set plans to achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020 but Delta's announcement is the largest such commitment.
"It’s a big challenge and it’s a big commitment,” CEO Ed Bastian was quoted as saying by CNBC.
"There's no greater challenge that I know of that we need to be investing in and innovating in as environmental sustainability."
Bastian said the group would continue to use jet fuel for as "far as the eye can see", but will be investing in technologies to reduce the impact of jet fuel.
The deal with Gevo complemented the airline’s $2 million investment in Northwest Advanced Bio-fuels LLC for the feasibility study of a facility to produce sustainable aviation fuel and other biofuel products in Washington State.
Long term investments
"Long term investments such as our agreement with Gevo are critical to Delta’s goal to lower our carbon footprint while planning for a more sustainable future,” Graeme Burnett, senior vice president of fuel management at Delta, had said.
"Fuel is an airline’s biggest area of impact and therefore presents our greatest opportunity to drive solutions that care for the planet."
Powered by inedible, industrial corn products, or Number 2 corn, Gevo’s patented process separates sugar from proteins in the corn product.
The sugars are then used to make the jet fuel, while the proteins are fed to livestock.