JetBlue is the first US airline to show its commitment to the fight against climate change by pledging carbon neutrality by July of this year, totaling an offset of between 7 and 8 million tonnes (8-9 million tons) of CO2 emissions annually. That is the annual equivalent of removing 1.5 million passenger vehicles from the road.
“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,” said Robin Hayes, chief executive officer of JetBlue, in a statement. “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 company says it is the first major US airline to “take this critical and measurable step toward reducing its contribution to global warming” and plans to further such endeavors this year by using “sustainable aviation fuel” on all flights from San Francisco.
Carbon offsetting is a concept directed at counteracting the number of carbon emissions produced by supporting projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas. Each ton of emissions reduced results in one carbon offset, also known as a carbon credit. Such projects support actions that increase the sequestration of carbon dioxide into carbon-holding reservoirs – such as trees, soils, and wetlands – or reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from sources like landfills, farms, and coal mines, notes the Natural Resources Defense Council. For example, money earned from a carbon offset may go toward funding a forest management project that will plant trees, which in turn will offset emissions by sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.
Transportation is the leading cause of greenhouse gas pollution in the US as the generation of power continues to shift toward electricity and renewable energy, according to a report published last year. The amount of carbon emitted by any given flight depends on a variety of factors, including distance, weather conditions, and the weight and model of the aircraft. According to a report by Yale Climate Connections, the US aviation industry produces 11 percent of total transportation-related emissions at the country level, which adds up to around 3 percent of global aviation-related carbon emissions annually produced by planes. Even so, JetBlue representatives say that offsetting carbon 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,” added Hayes.
Additionally, JetBlue says that it will purchase sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) produced entirely from waste and residue raw materials for all domestic flights.