JetBlue Airways Corp (JBLU). on Monday (Jan. 6th), announced that it will become the first large United States airline to offset emissions from all of its domestic flights. The corporation aims to become 'carbon neutral' by July this year as there is increased pressure on the industry from climate change activists. The airline based in New York said the carrier will also start using sustainable aviation fuel on its flights from San Francisco International Airport.
The company did not disclose the cost of kick-starting the program but said prices of airfare will not increase as a result of the program. JetBlue’s head of sustainability, Sophia Mendelsohn revealed that the airline produces about 8 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide emissions every year and is working on a plan to compensate for international flights.
As the concern of the aviation industry’s role in climate change has increased, the number of people taking domestic flights has dropped in Germany and Sweden, where teenage activist, Greta Thunberg has spearheaded a campaign against air travel. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, if the airline industry were a country, it would rank among the top 10 emitters.
Chief Executive Officer of JetBlue, Robin Hayes said the airline’s program is not a reaction to that growing criticism. In an interview, he said, “This is part of a long-term commitment we and the industry have to reflect the climate reality we are in. Aviation has a central and important role to play, and has to make sure it’s preparing for the new climate we are operating in.”
Bloomberg revealed that the company will earn carbon credits by investing in projects that protect forests from destruction; develop solar and wind farms instead of coal, diesel or furnace oil to generate power; and capture landfill production of methane, which can be converted into a renewable energy source.
The airline said its investment is a cost of doing business, however, also notes that the expense of carbon offsets is likely to rise with demand. Mendelson said, “By purchasing these now, we’re ostensibly locking in a hedge against rising CO2 prices.”
JetBlue is working with sustainability consultants EcoAct and South Pole, as well as Carbonfund.org Foundation, a nonprofit organization that has been involved in funding carbon-reduction and tree-planting projects across more than 40 states and 20 countries.
Mendelson further said, “We have put an incredible amount of rigour behind making sure these are real, they’re legitimate, they’re auditable, they’re traceable. We selected a carbon offset partner with a long-term reputation that’s survived the squalls of carbon offsetting ups and downs.”
JetBlue will make its purchase of renewable jet fuel from Finland’s Neste Oyj, mixing between 25% and 40% of the alternative with conventional fuel to power the airline’s 17 daily flights from San Francisco by July. Neste MY fuel, is produced from waste and residue of raw materials.
JetBlue has invested in emission mitigation projects since 2008, offsetting 2.6 billion pounds of CO2 emissions..