Delta has committed to spending $1 billion over the next 10 years in an effort to become the first carbon neutral airline.
The carrier said it will focus the investments widely on carbon-reduction efforts, developing new carbon removal technologies and on fostering partnerships. The carrier will also create a dedicated investment fund focused on helping it achieve carbon neutrality.
"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 CEO Ed Bastian said in a prepared comment Friday.
Airlines produce approximately 2.5% of global emissions. Environmental sustainability has become a sharper focus for the industry in the past year, largely in response to increasing public scrutiny driven by the flight-shaming movement of Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.
Delta said it will undertake an "enterprisewide" effort to decrease its use of jet fuel and increase efficiency. Areas of focus are to include fleet renewal, improved flight operations, weight reduction and increased development and use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Along that final line, the carrier committed to a 10 million gallons per year off-take agreement with SAF developer Gevo in December. The carrier is also looking into the feasibility of building a Washington-state based SAF refinery in partnership with Northwest Advanced Bio-Fuels. Delta entered into an off-take agreement with Northwest Advanced last month but did not reveal details of its commitment.
Alongside efforts to reduce carbon output, Delta said Friday that it will invest in innovations designed to remove carbon from the atmosphere through the use of forestry, wetland and grassland conservation, marine and soil capture and more. The carrier said it hopes to help minimize global reliance "on today's limited carbon-offset markets."
"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.