JetBlue is following through on earlier commitments to go carbon neutral on all domestic flights after becoming the first major U.S. airline to commit to this critical and measurable step toward addressing global warming. It is now the first U.S. airline to achieve carbon neutrality on all domestic flying.
On July 1, the airline started offsetting its carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) from jet fuel for all domestic JetBlue-operated flights. JetBlue is also investing in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and to start, the airline is fueling flights from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) with SAF.
Neste, a formidable producer of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel made from waste and residue raw materials, is supplying JetBlue Airways, as well as Alaska Airlines and American Airlines with fuel for flights from San Francisco International Airport (SFO). The fuel is now successfully being delivered to SFO via pipeline, a milestone the airport has called a “climate quantum leap”. Once SAF enters SFO’s fuel consortium storage, it is available to the commercial, cargo or business aviation entities that operate at the airport. JetBlue was a first mover in adopting this supply option, helping to kick-start the SAF market by improving the economics and increasing the use of these lower carbon fuels.
The aviation industry is not alone in its journey toward reduced emissions and increased sustainability,” said Chris Cooper, Vice President for Renewable Aviation at Neste North America. “Solutions like sustainable aviation fuel address both today’s needs and long-term goals, and collaboration is essential to enacting a greener future. Neste is proud to be taking a stand for sustainability through these partnerships with some of the most important airlines in North America.”
Carbon neutrality is just one of JetBlue’s paths toward creating a more sustainable enterprise. The plan includes investments to shrink its impact through fuel-saving technologies and aircraft, and advocating for a more fuel-efficient air traffic control system. JetBlue has achieved reductions in emissions on an intensity basis since 2015, and most recently improved 2.2 percent per available seat mile (ASM) from 2018 to 2019. Offsetting all remaining emissions from domestic flights and investing in SAF will help JetBlue move toward the lower-carbon economy for which aviation and all sectors must plan.
“The global pandemic reinforces the need to mitigate risks that threaten the health of our business. Our commitment to sustainability has only become more important as we prepare our business for a new climate reality,” said Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer, JetBlue. “Even with a long recovery ahead following the COVID-19 pandemic, JetBlue remains focused on short- and long-term environmental opportunities, particularly lessening our largest impact – carbon emissions – and more fuel efficient flying.”
Offsetting emissions from all domestic flights
Since 2008, JetBlue has been offsetting CO2 emissions from jet fuel with programs to balance customer flying, including a month of carbon neutral flying network-wide in 2015 and again in 2019. Offsetting all domestic flying expands those efforts in a bigger and more impactful way. Prior to this announcement, JetBlue had already offset more than 2.6 billion pounds of CO2 emissions in partnership with CarbonFund.org Foundation—a leading U.S. based nonprofit carbon reduction and climate solutions organization. JetBlue’s new carbon offsetting partners include two experts in climate solutions and carbon offsetting – South Pole and EcoAct, in addition to Carbonfund.org.
As JetBlue sets off to offset all emissions from jet fuel for domestic routes it expects to ramp up to offset 15-17 billion pounds (7 to 8 million metric tons) of CO2 emissions each year – the annual equivalent of removing more than 1.5 million passenger vehicles from the road.
As part of its offsetting program, JetBlue selects projects around the globe that will balance the emissions from its jet fuel. Many projects operate in developed countries where a bigger community impact can be made. Emissions reduction projects reduce the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere in at least one of three ways – avoiding greenhouse gas emissions in favor of renewable sources, removing emissions from the atmosphere, and destroying emissions when possible.
American Airlines noted, “Even in these difficult circumstances, setting up our airline to operate more sustainably is important to us, our team members and our customers,” said David Seymour, Chief Operating Officer for American Airlines. “We have a vision for the future of American that includes advancing the most promising options for reducing carbon emissions from air travel, and sustainable aviation fuel is chief among them.”
“Air travel connects people and cultures and supports a global economy. As an industry, we’re working together to limit our contributions to climate change,” added Geraghty. “Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions is an important part of JetBlue’s business plan. We remain focused on long-term environmental opportunities, particularly lessening our largest impact – carbon emissions from flying. The airline industry is one of the few industries that has collectively committed to an international emissions reduction goal. Now more than ever, we must also support other industry-wide environmental improvements like sustainable aviation fuel in order to kick-start the market on these lower carbon fuels.”
How carbon offsetting works
When projects that reduce CO₂ emissions are developed, every ton of emissions reduced results in the creation of one carbon offset or carbon credit. A carbon credit is a tradeable certificate that represents the avoidance or removal of one ton of carbon dioxide emissions. Buying carbon credits means investing in emission reduction projects that require carbon offsets financing in order to take place (a.).
Carbon offset projects are focused on but not limited to:
• Landfill Gas Capture (LFG): Landfill gas is a natural byproduct of the decomposition of organic material in landfills. Instead of escaping into the air, LFG can be captured, converted and used as a renewable energy resource. LFG energy projects generate revenue and create jobs in the local community and beyond.
• Solar/Wind: These projects develop expansive solar and wind farms, generating power that otherwise would have been supplied by fossil fuels like coal, diesel and furnace oil. These projects also create jobs and revenues for local communities.
• Forestry: Forest conservation projects prevent deforestation by helping voluntarily forego plans that would have converted forests for other purposes, while having additional co-benefits for communities and local wildlife. All of JetBlue’s purchased carbon offsets are audited, verified and retired on the airline’s behalf. These projects are audited to confirm the carbon reductions are permanent and ongoing. The sale of carbon offsets help to finance the projects.