Sustainable Business

U.S. airlines and Amazon join push to reduce aircraft emissions

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A United Airlines passenger jet takes off with New York City as a backdrop, at Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey, U.S. December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

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WASHINGTON, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Major U.S. airlines and Amazon.com's (AMZN.O) aviation unit are joining an effort to speed development and use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) to decrease emissions in air transport.

The Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance (SABA) said Amazon Air, Alaska Airlines (ALK.N), JetBlue (JBLU.O), and United Airlines are joining the effort, which includes major corporate airline customers, to help drive greater SAF production, price cuts and technological advancements.

The Environmental Defense Fund and the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) launched the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance (SABA) in April with companies including Boeing (BA.N), Bank of America (BAC.N), JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N), Microsoft (MSFT.O), and Netflix (NFLX.O) to support increased market demand for SAFs.

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At the climate talks in Glasgow, RMI managing director Bryan Fisher said aviation emissions would be equivalent to the sixth largest country's total emissions. Fisher said SAF is "almost largely 100%" of the solution through 2030 "and still a very large part" through 2050 but SAF is just 0.1% of jet fuel consumed today.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will represent the United States as a coalition of countries led by Britain are expected to announce the "International Aviation Climate Ambition Declaration," Reuters reported, citing sources.

Buttigieg on Wednesday praised SABA and cited "the importance of partnerships between the public and private sector" in cutting aviation emissions.

On Tuesday, the United States said it was setting a goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. aviation sector by 2050.

The White House said in September it was targeting 20% lower aviation emissions by 2030. Major U.S. airlines backed a voluntary industry target of 3 billion gallons of SAF use in 2030.

Ben Minicucci, CEO of Alaska Airlines, said the new "Aviators Group" within SABA is "focused on tangible steps, at scale, to accelerate progress."

SABA also said Facebook parent Meta is joining.

"Making sustainable travel a reality will require extensive investment in low-carbon technologies such as sustainable aviation fuel by our entire industry,” said United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby.

Nearly 2.5% of global emissions are a result of air travel.

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Reporting by David Shepardson. Editing by Gerry Doyle, Elaine Hardcastle

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