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Delta Signs with Carbon War Room to Advance Renewable Jet Fuel

The Digest has learned that Delta Air Lines is partnering with the Carbon War Room, a nonprofit organization founded by Sir Richard Branson, in an effort to accelerate low-carbon jet fuel production worldwide.

This is part of the global carrier’s commitment to environmental accountability, transparency and carbon emission reduction.

The organizations, which have kept on low profile on the specifics of the partnership, agreed that “the development of a secure, sustainable, renewable fuels supply will strengthen the airline industry’s access to high-quality jet fuel, reduce price volatility and the industry’s overall carbon footprint and meet the needs of increasingly climate-conscious customers. Additionally, access to a competitively-priced renewable jet fuel will be advantageous in meeting future regulatory requirements to reduce emissions from the burning of petroleum-based jet fuel.”

Delta and Aviation Emissions

John Laughter, Delta’s Senior Vice President for Corporate Safety, Security and Compliance added, “Delta recognizes that our commitment and responsibility extends well beyond our customers and includes being good global corporate citizens,”

“By joining with the Carbon War Room, Delta is further elevating its commitment to environmental sustainability and supporting real action to face the most important challenge of our time,” said CWR’s president José María Figueres.

The airline has been very much on the move in aviation emissions — since 2009, Delta has supported the greenhouse gas emissions goals of IATA and Airlines for America, including improving average annual fuel efficiency by 1.5 percent through 2020, stabilizing emissions with carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and reducing net emissions 50 percent by 2050, relative to 2005.  Initiatives at the airline have included reducing its carbon footprint through initiatives such as improving the efficiency of its fleet, partnerships in air traffic management, airport and facility green practices and a robust recycling program in the air and on the ground. The airline also has successfully verified its complete greenhouse gas emissions inventory under The Climate Registry and has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability North American Index three years in a row.

Delta and the Renewable Fuel Standard

Controversially, Delta was fingered as a company embroiled in efforts to derail the US Renewable Fuel Standard, when Reuters reported on efforts led by Delta and other Philadelphia refiners to slash proposed renewable fuel mandates. At the time, we wrote:

The clash [over the RFS] has been portrayed as a battle between “Big Oil” and “Big Corn,” two powerful and deep-pocketed lobbies. But a private equity firm and an airline helped convince the Obama administration to backtrack, at least temporarily, on a policy it has supported for years: requiring steadily-rising volumes of ethanol to be blended into gasoline each year, a key to shifting U.S. energy consumption toward renewable sources. The ethanol industry, blindsided by the proposed cut, has said it was orchestrated by “Big Oil.” However, some of the most effective players in the fight weren’t traditional oil majors but rather The Carlyle Group and Delta Air Lines, owners of two Philadelphia-area refiners.

It’s Monroe Energy subsidiary filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit against the 2013 RFS mandate. Its nature as a merchant refiner — swapping gasoline, diesel and other products with BP and Philips 66 for jetfuel — means it doesn’t generate any of its own RINs and so must buy them for the market, which the company claims is inflating fuel prices. Delta suffered a $51 million net loss during Q2 as a result.

Delta and Its Aviation Partners

But last year, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flew the first in a series of biofuel-powered flights between Amsterdam and New York. The flight of the 777-200 was supplied with biofuel by SkyNRG. It was the result of a joint effort and expanded cooperation between KLM, Schiphol Group, Delta Air Lines, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and by contributions of KLM’s partners in the Corporate BioFuel Program.

In 2012, KLM launched the world’s first biofuel proposition for contracted corporate accounts. This will allow them to fly on sustainable biofuel for a portion of their total flight volume, or on specific routes, thereby stimulating the further development of biofuels and reducing the aviation industry’s carbon footprint. The number of partners in the program has more than doubled to fifteen, and includes the City of Amsterdam, Loyens & Loeff, PGGM, FMO, Delta Air Lines, Siemens, TomTom and CBRE Global Investors. They follow initial customers such as Ahold, Accenture, DSM, Heineken, Nike, Philips and Schiphol Group who have been supporting KLM’s BioFuel programme since June of 2012.

“The potential for biofuel to contribute to our climate change strategy could be quite significant once issues of supply and cost are addressed,” says Ed Bastian, President of Delta Air Lines, said last year.

More About CWR

The Carbon War Room is a global nonprofit, founded by Sir Richard Branson and a team of like-minded entrepreneurs, that accelerates the adoption of business solutions that reduce carbon emissions at gigaton scale and advance the low-carbon economy. The organization focuses primarily on solutions that can be realized using proven technologies under current policy landscapes.The Carbon War Room identifies and works in sectors where emissions can be reduced profitably, and where there are barriers preventing greater adoption of low-carbon solutions. Within these sectors, we launch operations and collaborate with the sectors’ stakeholders.

The War Room’s current Operations include Maritime Shipping Efficiency, Building Efficiency, Renewable Jet Fuels, Smart Island Economies, and Trucking Efficiency.

This article was originally published on Biofuels Digest and was republished with permission.

Lead image: Chris Parypa Photography via Shutterstock

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