2. Delta Airlines says it's going big on climate
Axios' Amy Harder reports: Delta Airlines is spending $1 billion over the next decade to essentially cancel out all of its future greenhouse gas emissions beginning March 1, the company announced Friday.
The big picture: Delta is the world’s biggest airline by revenue, and this news is the latest in a rapidly growing trend of corporations announcing climate change goals in response to public and investor pressure.
Driving the news: Delta is able to immediately become carbon-neutral by purchasing what are called carbon offsets, financial transactions that ostensibly help cancel out carbon emissions by preventing emissions elsewhere in the world, like planting trees or supporting renewable energy.
- The company isn’t disclosing how many offsets it’s purchasing — or how much it’s spending on that. But it’s likely to be a huge number given the scale of its announcement.
Yes, but: Delta also says it’s going to minimize its reliance on carbon offsets, though it also concedes technologies enabling it to directly reduce its emissions aren’t readily available or in some cases even invented yet.
- It plans to research those technologies and others with its new allocation of $1 billion.
The intrigue: Carbon offsets are, at best, "very opaque and definitely hard for the average person to understand," said Sola Zheng, an expert on aviation at the nonprofit International Council on Clean Transportation.
- The quality of offsets also faces scrutiny. Doubt persists about whether offsets purchased actually reduce emissions and don’t just throw money at projects, such as planting trees or building a wind farm, that would have happened regardless.