United Airlines targets to reach an ambitious goal to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 100% by the end of 2050. The airline pledged to become a 100% green air operator.

On December 10, 2020, United Airlines released its Commitment to the Environment, following which the airline pledged to become carbon-neutral by 2050. The American air carrier aimed to become the first airline in the world to involve Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in its regular operations by implementing test programs and demonstrations into daily flights with a low-carbon fuel. 

United Airlines also outlined its desire to reduce fuel consumption by an additional 2% in comparison to standard aircraft winglets while flying with Boeing Split Scimitar winglets. As the airline claims in its statement, it has already 400 aircraft equipped with these winglets in the fleet.

In addition, the American air carrier committed to eliminate non-recyclable plastic stirring sticks as well as cocktail picks in its inflight service while replacing them with products made of 100% bamboo. The air carrier claimed it has already started the long journey to become more environmentally friendly having already replaced nearly 45% of its current ground equipment with electrically powered alternatives.

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Aviation has always had trouble to adhere to sustainability goals, as there is no true way to conduct an emissions-free flight. Can Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) be the solution?
 

“I recognize our responsibility in contributing to fight climate change, as well as our responsibility to solve it. These game-changing technologies will significantly reduce our emissions, and measurably reduce the speed of climate change – because buying carbon offsets alone is just not enough,“ quoted Scott Kirby, the Chief Executive Officer at United Airlines.

In 2019, United Airlines committed to investing $40 million to accelerate the development of SAF and as well as other decarbonization technologies. According to the statement, while having the longest history of using SAF of any other airline in the United States, United Airlines currently holds more than a half of “all publicly announced future purchase commitments to using SAF“.

“We're not just doing it to meet our own sustainability goal, we're doing it to drive the positive change our entire industry requires so that every airline can eventually join us and do the same," added the Chief Executive Officer of the airline.

Back in June 2015, the air carrier invested around $30 million in Fulcrum BioEnergy, a California-based sustainable fuel producer. The investment became “the single largest investment by any airline globally in a sustainable fuel producer“, read in United Airlines statement.