JetBlue targets carbon-neutral US flights

  • Green target: JetBlue intends to use alternative fuels in an effort to become carbon-neutral for US domestic flights by this summer (File photograph)

    Green target: JetBlue intends to use alternative fuels in an effort to become carbon-neutral for US domestic flights by this summer (File photograph)

JetBlue Airways will become the first major US airline to offset carbon dioxide emissions from jet fuel for all its domestic flights.

In addition to becoming carbon-neutral for its US flights from July, it will use sustainable aviation fuel on flights from San Francisco by the middle of the year.

The airline has flights linking Bermuda with New York and Boston. The Royal Gazette has asked if these services will be included in the emission offsetting programmes and is awaiting a response.

As climate change concerns grow, the aviation industry has committed to improving fuel efficiency and reducing its CO2 emissions to 50 per cent of 2005 levels by 2050.

“Air travel connects people and cultures, and supports a global economy, yet we must act to limit this critical industry’s contributions to climate change,” Robin Hayes, JetBlue chief executive officer, said.

“We reduce where we can and offset where we can’t. By offsetting all of our domestic flying, we’re preparing our business for the lower-carbon economy that aviation — and all sectors — must plan for.”

The airline will offset its carbon emissions by supporting projects such as forestry, landfill gas capture and solar and wind farms. Every ton of CO2 emissions reduced by these projects results in the creation of one carbon [offset] credit.

Carbon credits are tradable certificates, and buying carbon credits means investing in emission-reduction projects that require carbon-offsetting financing in order to take place.

Since 2008, JetBlue has offset more than 2.6 billion pounds of CO2 emissions. It now expects to offset an additional 15 to 17 billion pounds (about eight million tonnes) of emissions per year. That is the equivalent of removing more than 1.5 million passenger vehicles from the road.

All of JetBlue’s purchased carbon offsets will be audited, verified and retired on the airline’s behalf. Its carbon offsetting partners include, South Pole, and EcoAct.

Mr Hayes said: “The airline industry is one of the few industries that has collectively committed to an international emissions reduction goal.

“Air travel brings so much good to the world and JetBlue has always been about making our essential industry better. Carbon offsetting is a bridge to, not a silver bullet for, a lower carbon future. Reducing and mitigating our greenhouse gas emissions is a fundamental aspect of our business plan and our mission to inspire humanity.”

The role the air industry plays in creating CO2 emissions has been highlighted by Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager and climate activist who has advocated for taking trains rather than planes, where possible, to reach destinations.

The biofuel JetBlue will use on flights from San Francisco International Airport is produced by Finnish company Neste. The fuel is 100 per cent made from waste and residue raw materials and has up to an 80 per cent smaller carbon footprint compared with traditional fossil fuel used by aircraft, according to JetBlue.

The company said: “Safety is JetBlue’s number one priority and the fuel is fully compatible with the existing jet engine technology and fuel distribution infrastructure when blended with fossil jet fuel. The fuel is being shipped via the fuel pipeline to the airport where it will be safely used alongside regular fuel without safety or operational impact.”

Beyond using sustainable aviation fuel and offsetting emissions of its US flights, JetBlue is investing in more fuel-efficient aircraft, with 85 new Airbus A321neo (new engine option) aircraft. These will improve fuel economy by 20 per cent, the company said. Additionally, it is acquiring 70 Airbus A220 aircraft to replace older planes. It is believed these will reduce CO2 emissions, on a per seat basis, by 40 per cent.

JetBlue is also advocating for a more efficient air traffic control system, as it said current inefficiencies account for up to 12 per cent of fuel burn.

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Published Jan 9, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 8, 2020 at 11:53 pm)

JetBlue targets carbon-neutral US flights

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