Southwest Airlines Announces 10-Year Plan to Reduce Carbon Emissions

October 19, 2021

Southwest Airlines yesterday announced a series of near-term goals, actions, and initiatives in support of a 10-year plan to maintain carbon neutrality to 2019 levels while continuing to grow its operations.

The Company plans to achieve these objectives through the following actions:

  • Reduce its carbon emissions per available seat mile (including scope 1 and scope 2 emissions) by at least 20 percent by 2030 through fleet modernization, route optimization, and other initiatives.  
  • Replace 10 percent of its total jet fuel consumption with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030.
  • Offset emissions by providing the first U.S.-based airline carbon offset offer with loyalty points and for every dollar contributed toward offsetting Southwest’s carbon emissions, Southwest will match the contribution.*
  • “As a leading global citizen, we’re building on prior efforts to address our environmental impact, and with today’s announcement, we’re setting goals to reduce our carbon emission intensity and increase SAF in our operations; and we’re working to advance knowledge in the field of sustainability,” said Bob Jordan, Executive Vice President and Incoming CEO at Southwest Airlines.

    Southwest’s 10-year plan to maintain carbon neutrality to 2019 levels while continuing to grow its operations includes plans to reduce, replace, and offset. In addition, the Company will continue to partner with organizations and nonprofits whose work complements its efforts to improve environmental sustainability and will invite Customers to join in this effort to show kindness to our planet.

    The scope of Southwest’s Sustainability efforts extends well beyond a ten-year time horizon. The ultimate objective is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, and there is significant work underway directed at this ultimate objective. An important step in that long-term plan is a tangible strategy and clear set of actions for the next ten years.

    “Southwest is making sustainability a priority in order to continue connecting Customers to what’s important in their lives while striving to achieve our carbon neutrality goals,” said Stacy Malphurs, Vice President of Supply Chain Management & Environmental Sustainability for Southwest. “Our goal to reduce, replace, offset, and partner are important next steps in the journey to build a holistic approach to improve our environmental sustainability.”

    Southwest plans to continue reducing its carbon emissions intensity by:  

    • Modernizing its fleet with more fuel-efficient Boeing 737 MAX 7 and 8 aircraft. Southwest has extended its order book through 2031 with plans to accelerate  737-700 retirements and invest more than $10 billion in new and existing firm aircraft orders to further improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.
    • Continuing to work with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) NextGen program in an effort to modernize the U.S. air traffic control system by addressing limitations on air transportation capacity and making more efficient use of airspace.
    • Electrifying eligible ground services equipment, increasing the current fleet of more than 1,400 electric-powered vehicles.
    • Adding to the Company’s more than $630 million investment in fuel efficiency initiatives since 2002, implementing, as an example, new technology to monitor fleet utilization

    By 2030, Southwest plans to replace 10 percent of its total jet fuel consumption as sustainable aviation fuel by:

    • Establishing a partnership with Neste for up to 5 million gallons of SAF through December 2023. 
    • Working with Marathon Petroleum Corporation and Phillips 66, furthering its announced memoranda of understanding, to facilitate the development and production of SAF at significant scale.
    • Engaging with Deloitte, Siemens, and Zurich North America for SAF beta partnerships to help support Southwest’s utilization of SAF in its operation.

    As Southwest implements long-term plans and explores new technologies in the short-term, it also is taking steps to offset energy consumption and engage both individual and corporate Customers on opportunities by:

    • Partnering with ChoooseTM and Customers to offset Southwest’s carbon emissions by providing the first U.S.-based airline carbon offset offer with loyalty points and for every dollar contributed toward offsetting Southwest’s carbon emissions, Southwest will match the contribution.*
    • Launching the Green Incentive Program, a Southwest Business performance-based incentive program that provides corporate Customers the opportunity to earn and use funds for their company’s sustainability initiatives, which could include offsets or other initiatives.
    • Sourcing 100 percent renewable electricity as of May 2021 for the carrier’s Dallas corporate campus through the purchase of renewable energy certificates.

    In addition to the goals announced above, partnerships will play a crucial role in Southwest’s sustainability efforts, along with government support and collaboration throughout the entire value chain, including:

    • Making a $10 million commitment to Yale’s Center for Natural Carbon Capture to research technological advancements and find new solutions to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions and to Yale’s School of the Environment to explore the current state of sustainability, strategy, policy, and economics.
    • Continuing Repurpose with Purpose, a global sustainability initiative that upcycles items such as leather seat coverings and transforms them into new products. Through Repurpose with Purpose, Southwest Airlines supports communities by helping to provide employment, skills training, and donated products. In 2020, nearly 140,000 pounds of leather seat covers were repurposed, helping Southwest reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills while also generating social and economic opportunities for communities.
    • Working with a variety of organizations and nonprofits, including Airlines for America (A4A), whose work complements our sustainability efforts, as well as government entities in supporting investments and incentives to help the industry meet its goals. 

    [Source: Southwest Airlines]

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