Flying—whether it’s a short hop or a long-haul trip—is one of the most carbon-intensive things a person can do. Planes emitted over 900 million metric tons of carbon dioxide across the globe in 2018, and that staggering number is expected to triple by 2050. Although airlines as a whole have become more fuel efficient over the years, some are taking extra measures to shrink their carbon footprints. On Monday, JetBlue announced it will offset carbon emissions for all of its domestic flights starting July 2020. That makes it the first major U.S. airline to do so.
“We must act to limit this critical industry’s contributions to climate change,” JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said in a press release. “We reduce where we can and offset where we can’t.”
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JetBlue will partner with Carbonfund.org, EcoAct, and South Pole to neutralize its emissions. The airline has already worked with Carbonfund.org to offset 2.6 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions since 2008, and with this new initiative, it now expects to offset an additional 15-17 billion pounds per year. According to JetBlue, that’s equal to taking over 1.5 million passenger vehicles off the road each year.
To offset emissions, the airline will support a variety of projects around the world. These include forest conservation, landfill gas capture (where gases produced by decomposing material in a landfill are used as an energy source), and solar and wind power projects.
In addition, JetBlue will also use sustainable aviation fuel on flights from San Francisco International Airport starting in mid-2020. The fuel is produced from 100-precent renewable materials, including used cooking oil and waste animal fat. According to Neste, the company that produces the fuel, it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80 percent compared to normal jet fuel. JetBlue plans to mix it with traditional fuel for use in its aircraft.
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The news comes just a few months after another airline, U.K.-based budget carrier EasyJet, announced that it would offset its carbon emissions, CNBC reports. Other airlines, like Virgin, Delta, and United, have programs where passengers can purchase credits to offset emissions from their flight.
The climate anxiety over flying is real, and it’s starting to gain more attention. Some people have chosen to fly less or pledge to give it up altogether. And Greta Thunberg‘s much-publicized voyage across the Atlantic drove home how environmentally costly flying can be (and the lack of climate-friendly alternatives, especially for traveling long distances). With this new initiative, however, JetBlue might take some of the guilt out of jetting around the country.
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