Delta Air Lines has committed to setting a new emissions target for its global airline operations in line with the climate science underpinning the Paris Agreement. This commitment complements Delta’s already industry-leading set of climate actions, including voluntarily capping its emissions at 2012 levels, committing to carbon-neutrality from March 2020 onward and aspiring to replace 10 percent of its conventional jet fuel with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by the end of 2030.
“Big challenges require big solutions,” said Ed Bastian, Delta’s CEO. “Climate change is one of the most critical challenges facing our world today, and we remain committed to driving change across the aviation ecosystem by setting ambitious targets tailored to our unique industry challenges.”
Specifically, Delta has signed a commitment letter to work with the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) to set a science-based emissions intensity improvement target using the organization’s recently released criteria and guidance for the aviation sector.
SBTi is a premier global partnership between leading non-governmental organizations aiding the business community to align their medium- and long-term climate goals with the science guiding the Paris Agreement. The company plans to work with SBTi to develop an approved emissions intensity target consistent with the sector-specific guidance limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius.
A key component of setting and achieving this target is accelerating the work already underway with fleet renewals, operational efficiencies and scaling SAF, with SAF in particular requiring strong policy support and investment from the Administration.
In 2020, Delta’s fuel efficiency improved 5.7 percent per seat mile from 2019, saving 117 million gallons of fuel due to fleet retirements, reduced passenger loads and other factors. This year, Delta has ordered 55 incremental Airbus A321neo aircraft, which are expected to achieve 12 percent greater fuel efficiency on a per-seat basis than the A321ceo aircraft. The airline is leasing seven used Airbus A350-900s, which burn 21 percent less fuel per seat than the 777s they replace.
In addition, this year the company has purchased over 300,000 gallons of SAF, collaborating with its corporate partners to help grow the underdeveloped SAF market. Beginning in 2025, Delta expects to receive roughly 70 million gallons of SAF annually under offtake agreements with two providers. The company also recently announced a memorandum of understanding with Chevron and Google to evaluate the environmental benefits and integrity of SAF while increasing transparency.
“By partnering with thought leaders and experts at SBTi, we ensure the goals we set in the near-term are rooted in the science needed to help limit the rise in global temperatures over the long-term,” said Amelia DeLuca, Delta’s Managing Director of Sustainability. “We are also having constructive conversations with policymakers in Washington, as the industry cannot significantly reduce its emissions in the absence of strong federal climate leadership.”
Delta committed to being the first carbon-neutral airline globally, starting March 2020. It has a longstanding commitment to sustainable air travel and through its inaugural ESG report highlights its intention to be a catalyst for global change and its role in growing empathy, respect and care for the planet and the people within it. Delta was the No. 1 airline named among America’s Most Sustainable Companies by Barron’s in 2020. It was the only U.S. airline included in the 2021 S&P Global Sustainability Yearbook. It has received the Vision for America Award by Keep America Beautiful and Captain Planet Foundation's Superhero Corporate Award.
Delta has also earned a spot on the FTSE4Good Index for six consecutive years and the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index for ten straight years. For more information, visit Delta.com/sustainability.
Statements made in this release that are not historical facts, including statements regarding our estimates, expectations, beliefs, intentions, projections, goals, aspirations, commitments or strategies for the future, should be considered “forward-looking statements” under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements are not guarantees or promised outcomes and should not be construed as such. All forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the estimates, expectations, beliefs, intentions, projections, goals, aspirations, commitments and strategies reflected in or suggested by the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, those described in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020 and our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarterly period ended June 30, 2021. Caution should be taken not to place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements, which represent our views only as of the date of this release, and which we undertake no obligation to update except to the extent required by law.