Sustainable Travel: United Airlines (by Alejandra de la Fuente)
We all know that anything that burns fossil fuels harms our world by further emitting greenhouse gases into our atmosphere and advancing global warming. With growing attention to climate change, there has been a serious growth and investment in renewable energy as the main focus to combat climate change. H
owever, airlines can't rely on renewable clean energy to offset their impact of 2% of all global carbon emissions because flying requires burning fossil fuels. However, airlines have focused on investing in the research and development of sustainable fuel sources, carbon sequestration, sustainable products, and reforestation projects.
United Airlines has joined the effort to reduce airline industries’ carbon emissions and become an environmentally conscious airline. In 2018, United marked history by becoming the first American airline to publicly announce its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2050. As a step towards achieving the pledge to reduce its greenhouse gas impact to zero by 2050, United Airlines Inc. recently announced its multimillion-dollar investment in 1PointFive, an Occidental Petroleum Corporation. This company focuses on carbon sequestration, a process through which carbon is removed from the atmosphere to be disposed of underground. United’s investment in the initiative, which has been in works since before the pandemic, is said to remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere per year as 40 million trees do.
Although aviation faces many more challenging environmental issues to deal with, efforts to reduce GHGs shows a step in the right direction for this sector.
Despite the losses United Airlines took this year, their initiative and capability to invest in carbon sequestration are more direct than purchasing offsets and show their commitment to environmental aviation. United Airlines’ investment in direct carbon dioxide capture makes them a role model of sustainable aviation and an advocate of a technology that will become increasingly important and accessible in the coming years.