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Delta Air Lines Cuts Annual Emissions By 8.5 Million Tonnes

US-based Delta Air Lines has managed to reduce its annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 8.5 million tonnes between 2005 and 2012. This reduction is equivalent to 18.4% reduction from the 2005 emission levels. The airline’s emissions for 2012 have been verified by the Climate Registry.

The airline also boasts an average annual increase in aircraft fuel efficiency of 1.7% between 2009 and 2012 which is higher than the goal set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). IATA, and Airlines for America, have pledged to improve fuel efficiency by 1.5% every year through 2020, stabilise emissions with carbon-neutral growth from 2020, and reduce GHG emissions by 50% by 2050 from 2005 levels.

“By measuring and verifying carbon emissions through The Climate Registry, we demonstrate accountability for our emissions, as well as a continued commitment to reduce Delta’s overall carbon footprint through fleet renewal, reducing weight from our aircraft and implementing air traffic initiatives,” said Ken Hylander, senior vice president – Corporate Safety, Security and Compliance.

The airline has taken a number of steps that led to improvement in fuel efficiency, and in turn, reduction in GHG emissions. It retired 49 small capacity regional jets and replaced them with 28 mainline, more efficient aircrafts, including the Boeing 717 and Boeing 737-900.

The company converted 35 ground support equipment from diesel to electric in partnership with the Environment Protection Agency and the City of Atlanta’s Centre for Transportation and the Environment. This move will offset about 11,500 tonnes of GHG emissions over the lifetime of the equipment.

The airline has been among the first around the world to take initiative to offsets GHG emissions. In 2007, it became the first airline to launch a carbon offset scheme, offering passengers the opportunity to calculate and offset the GHG emissions associated with their travel. The airline donated $1 million to one of the forest conservation projects started by The Nature Conservancy in the Lower Mississippi River Valley. In 2012, Delta and The Nature Conservancy offered the passengers to opportunity offset their emissions using offsets generated from a second forestry project. Because of Delta’s initiatives, it was subsequently cited as a ‘leader in sustainability’ in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

The international airline industry is currently mulling over a global carbon market structure to promote emission reduction. The EU has made it clear that the airline sector must agree on the a global carbon market by the end of this year, else it would implement its controversial emissions trading scheme from next year.

Title Image Credit: Delta Air Lines Boeing 767-300 / Credit: Aero Icarus | CC BY-SA 2.0

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Written By

Mridul currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.


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