JetBlue reported achieving carbon neutrality for all domestic flying, becoming the first major US airline to hit that milestone. The airline credits carbon offsetting and switching to sustainable aviation fuel in making the difference.
Their carbon reduction strategy is focused on reducing emissions through efforts such as investing in fuel-saving technologies and aircraft, and advocating for a more fuel-efficient air traffic control system, according to the airline.
Starting on July 1, JetBlue started offsetting carbon dioxide emissions from jet fuel used in all domestic flights that the airline operates. Previously, the airline’s partnership with the CarbonFund.org Foundation offset more than 2.6 billion pounds of CO2 emissions. Now the airline seeks to increase that to 5 billion to 17 billion pounds of CO2 offset each year.
“When projects that reduce CO2 emissions are developed, every ton of emissions reduced results in the creation of one carbon offset or carbon credit,” the airline explained. “A carbon credit is a tradable 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.”
Carbon offset projects can include:
- Landfill gas capture (LFG): Instead of escaping into the air, landfill gas can be captured, converted, and used as a renewable energy resource.
- Solar and wind: Developing expansive solar and wind farms to generate power that otherwise would have been supplied by fossil fuels.
- Forestry: Forest conservation projects prevent deforestation by helping voluntarily forego plans that would have converted forests for other purposes. These projects have additional co-benefits for communities and local wildlife.
JetBlue said that all of their purchased carbon offsets are audited, verified, and retired on the airline’s behalf. Selling carbon offsets helps finance the projects.
But the airline’s leadership said that they view carbon offsetting as a bridge to other industry-wide environmental improvements. One of them is using fuel that produces fewer emissions. In January, the airline announced plans to fly from San Francisco International Airport using Neste’s sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) called MY Renewable Jet Fuel. Those flights began in July.
“Neste’s SAF is produced from 100% renewable and sustainably sourced waste and residue materials,” JetBlue said. “Over the lifecycle and in neat form, it has up to 80% smaller carbon footprint compared to fossil jet fuel whilst also emitting less particulate matter, SOx [sulfur oxides], and other pollutants.”