JetBlue Airways Corp. said it will become the first large US airline to offset emissions from all of its domestic flights, aiming to become carbon neutral by July as pressure grows on the industry from climate change activists.
The carrier also will begin using sustainable aviation fuel on its flights from San Francisco International Airport, the New York-based airline said Monday.
JetBlue declined to disclose the cost of the offset program but said it won’t increase airfares as a result. The airline produces about 8 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide emissions each year and is working on a plan to compensate for international flights, said Sophia Mendelsohn, JetBlue’s head of sustainability.
The carrier is following EasyJet Plc, Europe’s second-largest discounter, which in November announced it would become the first airline to offset carbon emissions from its flights. As concerns about the industry’s role in climate change have mounted, the number of people taking domestic flights has dropped in Germany and Sweden, where teenage activist Gareta Thunberg has spearheaded a campaign against air travel.
JetBlue Chief Executive Officer Robin Hayes said his airline’s program isn’t a reaction to that growing criticism.
“This is part of a long-term commitment we and the industry have to have to reflect the climate reality we are in,” he said in an interview. “Aviation has a central and important role to play, and has to make sure it’s preparing for the new climate we are operating in.”
JetBlue fell less than 1% to $18.48 at the close in New York. The shares advanced 17% last year, while a Standard & Poor’s index of the five largest US carriers climbed 10%.
JetBlue will earn carbon credits by investing in projects that protect forests from destruction; develop solar and wind farms instead of coal, diesel or furnace oil to generate power; and capture landfill production of methane, which can be converted into a renewable energy source.
The airline said its investment is a cost of doing business, though notes that the expense of carbon offsets is likely to rise with demand. “By purchasing these now, we’re ostensibly locking in a hedge against rising CO2 prices,” said Mendelsohn, the sustainability chief. Other US carriers purchase offsets on a more limited basis.
JetBlue is working with sustainability consultants EcoAct and South Pole, as well as Carbonfund.org Foundation, a nonprofit organization that’s funded carbon-reduction and tree-planting projects across more than 40 states and 20 countries.