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Microsoft to buy jet fuel made with waste oil for Alaska Airlines in climate pledge

Microsoft announced on Thursday a new partnership with Alaska Airlines in which the software company will buy alternative jet fuel for some of the airline’s planes, one of the latest steps the tech company has taken to eliminate carbon emissions.

CNBC reports that by working with Alaska Airlines, Microsoft is targeting the emissions produced from business travel. 

As the airline industry struggles to stay operational during the pandemic, executives say they believe this is temporary. When airline travel becomes more popular again, tackling carbon emissions as a leading source of climate change will once again be a priority, said Judson Althoff, executive vice president of Microsoft’s worldwide commercial business. 

“We believe that as we return to the skies, the travel routes we’ve had ... will resume at the level they had been before,” Althoff told reporters. “This gives us the ability to get ahead of all of that because the climate crisis can’t wait.”

The alternative fuel Microsoft will be purchasing for Alaska Airlines will be based from waste oil sources from cooking or agriculture and then blended with traditional jet fuel. It will then be distributed by the Netherlands company SkyNRG at Los Angeles International Airport.

While neither company disclosed the cost or amount of fuel to be purchased, Microsoft confirmed that the new pledge will cover carbon emissions generated from some of the company’s most common routes, including from Seattle to Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.

Utilizing alternative fuel sources has become a popular solution to limiting carbon emissions from classic jet fuel. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has several initiatives that aim to use about 1 billion gallons of sustainable alternatives to jet fuel annually.

According to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), aircraft-related emissions account for 12 percent of all U.S. transportation emissions and compose 3 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Globally, aviation was responsible for 2.4 percent of all carbon emissions in 2018. 

Many airlines have taken similar steps to reduce their carbon production, including JetBlue, Delta and United. Alaska CEO Brad Tilden told CNBC that the Microsoft deal is unique and he hopes it will inspire other airlines to make similar pledges.

“I believe it may well become a template for other business travelers,” Tilden told CNBC.

This deal is another chapter in Microsoft’s pledge to become 100 percent carbon negative by 2030, which the company announced back in January. To do so, it will have to remove more carbon than it emits across its business operations.

This article originally appeared on The Hill

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