13 April- United Airlines said on Tuesday that it has partnered with global companies including Nike Inc and Siemens AG in an Eco-Skies Alliance to finance the use of about 3.4 million gallons of low-carbon, sustainable aviation fuel derived from trash.
Although renewable compared to the 4.3 billion gallons of jet fuel United used in 2019 before the start of the COVID 19 pandemic, the amount triples the roughly 1 million gallons of sustainable fuel that United has consumed each year since 2016.
Since 2008, airlines have used sustainable fuel as part of efforts to reduce outright emissions, but so far this represents only 1% of the fuel used worldwide, industry groups say.
The Chicago-based United named 11 of more than a dozen global partners for the plan, but did not disclose the cost or how much each would contribute.
The air transport accounts for 2%- 3% of greenhouse gas emissions, the French Aerospace Association said on Tuesday. Environmental groups argue that the sector's total contribution is higher.
Partners include companies with corporate or cargo deals with United, like Nike, Siemens, Palantir and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. of Japan.
United said the project will give customers a way to help reduce the environmental impact of flying beyond purchasing carbon offsets and could help create more of a market for sustainable aviation fuels.
We 'll see how it develops, Chief Executive Scott Kirby told reporters. I think there's a huge appetite for it.
The aviation industry has focused more broadly on the purchase of carbon offsets to reduce the environmental impact of flying, pending the arrival of new technology to meet the sector's goal of reducing net emissions by 2050 versus 2005.
Environmental critics say offsets do not directly address climate goals and mask the problem of ongoing jet emissions.
United has announced a new investment in carbon capture technology and criticized offsets. It has also said that it will reduce net emissions by 100% by 2050.
It has invested in a sustainable aviation fuel producer called Fulcrum BioEnergy.
While we know that aircraft are never going to be 100% decarbonized, we are not going to use offsets as the way to have a 100% green, said Kirby.
The IATA airline association says that life cycle greenhouse emissions from normal fuel can be at least 80% lower than sustainable fuel and are the only medium-term option for reducing emissions growth, since airlines can not yet switch to electric planes.
Delta Air Lines has announced it plans to replace 10% of its jet fuel, currently refined from sustainable fuel by the end of 2030, with fossil fuel. Although using waste avoids taking land from food production, environmental groups like Transport Environment say such supplies are limited and face competition from other sectors.
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