Delta will invest $1 billion to become first carbon-neutral airline

Delta will invest $1 billion over the next decade in an effort to become the world’s first carbon-neutral airline, the company announced Friday.

The company — the world’s biggest airline — has previously made efforts to mitigate its carbon impact by purchasing more fuel-efficient aircraft and eliminating single-use plastics, but the new initiative would instantly make it the industry leader.

“There’s no challenge we face that is in greater need of innovation than environmental sustainability, and we know there is no single solution,” Delta’s chief executive, Ed Bastian, said in a statement.

Bastian is an advocate of air travel as a way to connect people and economies across the globe but has been vocal about the industry’s responsibility in ensuring environmental sustainability.

The airline did not provide details on how it will invest the money, but it will likely use some of it on carbon-offset programs that funnel funds into environmental projects to help counteract plane emissions.

The aviation industry accounts for roughly 2 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions and has set out a plan to achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020, even as air travel is forecast to accelerate.

Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Airlines
Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta AirlinesGetty Images

The investment will begin on March 1, though Delta did not say how much it will initially spend.

“We are on a journey, and though we don’t have all the answers today, we know that our scale, along with investments of time, talent and resources will bring meaningful impact to the planet and ensure the sustainability of our business for decades to come,” Bastian said.

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