Alaska Airlines targets net-zero carbon by 2040

April 22, 2021
Photo: Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines has pledged to reduce its carbon emissions to net-zero by 2040 as part of a commitment that includes strengthened near-term carbon, waste and water goals.

Alaska this week signed into The Climate Pledge, co-founded by Amazon and Global Optimism in 2019, which is committed to achieving net-zero carbon a decade ahead of the Paris Agreement.

The Seattle-based carrier said its roadmap to net-zero emissions included five areas: fleet renewal, operational efficiency, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), novel propulsion and “credible, high-quality carbon offsetting technology”.

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It noted its recent 737 MAX order would mean its newest aircraft would have a 22 percent better fuel efficiency per seat than the aircraft they replace and it was using advanced technology to improve flight efficiency.

This included the use of first-of-its-kind artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to optimize flight paths.

Other moves included a near-term goal to halve ground service equipment emissions by 2025 with the introduction of electric equipment and other renewables.

“Long-term plans for achieving net-zero emissions include expanding the market for SAF and exploring and advancing novel propulsion approaches that support electrification technology for regional flying, that are either not dependent on fossil fuels, or more efficient than current methods,’’ the airline said.

“And because aviation is one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonize, Alaska will also work with science and technical advisory Carbon Direct to identify and vet credible, high-quality carbon offsetting technologies to close any remaining gaps on the path to net-zero.”

Other Alaska initiatives include five-year goals to reduce waste through more sustainable packaging, restarting industry-leading inflight recycling post-COVID and offsetting 100 percent of its operational water use through investments in high-quality habitat projects.

The airline is also this year including a carbon emissions target in the incentive pay program for all 22,000 employees.

“The pandemic sharpened the clarity of our purpose and led us a stronger path forward,’’ said Diana Birkett Rakow, Alaska’s vice president of public affairs and sustainability.

“But we also know we can’t do this alone and that we must work together with government, manufacturers, innovators and other industry partners to decarbonize aviation.”