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United Airlines Commits to 100% Green Carbon Neutral by 2050

We recognize the role we play as an airline in contributing to climate change and therefore our responsibility in solving it. To meet our goal of going 100% green by reducing 100% of our greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, we want to lead our industry toward real solutions and lasting change.

A word from our CEO, Scott Kirby

“When I became United Airlines’ new CEO at the beginning of the pandemic, I did so with a grand vision for our company: to make sustainability the new standard in flight. I realize it’s an ambitious vision for someone in an industry that depends on burning fossil fuels to operate. As the leader of one of the world’s largest airlines, I recognize our responsibility in contributing to climate change as well as our responsibility to solve it. It’s no longer enough to for us to connect the world without making sure it has a future.”

Our path to decarbonization

True sustainability is about taking on the biggest culprit in our industry — the emissions generated by our aircraft. Unlike other airlines, we’re looking beyond using carbon offsets. We believe carbon offsets simply don’t go far enough to address the emissions caused by our operations. To achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, we’ll aim to tackle emissions at their source by continuing and accelerating development and investment in:

Sustainable fuel

Sustainable fuel is made from renewable resources and waste byproducts — and sustainable fuel has up to 80% fewer carbon emissions than conventional jet fuel, making it the fastest and most effective way United is reducing its emissions across its fleet. We have been investing heavily in sustainable fuel for more than a decade now, using half the world’s committed volumes alone.

Direct Air Capture

Carbon capture and sequestration has been widely viewed by scientists as a necessary step to limit climate change and one of the most scalable options is Direct Air Capture technology. We intend to make a multimillion-dollar investment in a startup that will help fund the first Direct Air Capture plant in the U.S. A Direct Air Capture plant is planned to capture, remove and store 1 million metric tons of CO2 — which is like the work of 40 million trees.

How does carbon capture and sequestration work?

Direct Air Capture is a technology that captures carbon dioxide directly from the air so it can be buried deep underground or reused. Giant fans continuously pull in atmospheric air, then a chemical reaction extracts the CO2 molecules and traps them in a non-toxic liquid solution. The CO2 is then put through a series of chemical processes, compressed, purified and pumped into the ground and sequestered permanently or reused. Capturing and sequestering carbon using Direct Air Capture technology is similar to what trees do as they photosynthesize but this process is much faster.

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