At Southwest, our Purpose is focused on connecting People to what's important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel–a focus that includes tackling the environmental impacts of flying. Last October, we launched our 10-year Environmental Sustainability plan , providing milestones to make progress towards our ultimate goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. As part of this plan, we intend to reduce our carbon emissions intensity by at least 20% by 2030  and maintain carbon neutral growth to 2019 levels. Our 10-year Environmental Sustainability plan is an important step towards our ultimate goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, and a key pillar of our plan is to replace 10 percent of our total jet fuel consumption with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030. We recognize the critical role SAF plays in decarbonizing aviation and the challenges everyone faces in scaling SAF that is cost-competitive with and has a lower carbon intensity (on a lifecycle basis) than conventional jet fuel.
That’s why I’m incredibly excited to share that Southwest is making a first-of-its-kind investment to support the development of technology intended to commercialize sustainable aviation fuel!
What are we doing?
We are investing in SAFFiRE Renewables, LLC  , a company formed by Grand Forks, North Dakota based technology company D3MAX, LLC, as part of a Department of Energy (DOE)-backed project to develop and produce renewable ethanol that can then be turned into SAF.
In 2021, the DOE awarded D3MAX the only pilot-scale grant for SAF production, with a goal to scale technology that could commercialize lower carbon intensity SAF (on a lifecyle basis, when compared to the carbon intensity of conventional jet fuel).
What will this investment help create?
Funded in part by Southwest’s investment, SAFFiRE is expected to utilize technology developed by the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to convert corn stover, a widely available waste feedstock in the U.S., into renewable ethanol, which would then be upgraded into SAF.
Southwest’s match of the DOE’s grant supports phase one of the project, which is expected to include technology validation, preliminary design of a pilot plant, and a business plan for the pilot plant.
Where can I learn more about corn stover?
Corn stover is what’s left over after the corn grain is harvested. For example, the leaves, stalks and cobs of the corn.
Interested in learning more about how corn stover can be turned into fuel for our aircraft? Check out this video sharing what the technology will look like, if successful:
Why is this opportunity so exciting for Southwest Airlines?
Phase one of the project is intended to set the plan, including both the business plan, and pilot plant construction plan for this corn stover-to-renewable ethanol technology, which could lead to a follow-up phase involving the construction and operation of a pilot plant that would produce corn stover-based renewable ethanol that could then be upgraded into significant quantities of SAF.
If successful, we believe this technology could help facilitate the replacement of up to 5% of our jet fuel with SAF by 2030 (half of our 10% goal!), with the potential to significantly continue to scale beyond 2030!
This is a unique opportunity for Southwest to invest in what could be game-changing technology that could help us reach our SAF and environmental sustainability goals. SAF is critical for decarbonizing the aviation sector, and this investment is another step we are taking to advance SAF and work towards achieving our environmental sustainability goals.
 As compared to 2019, includes scope 1 and 2 emissions and the use of sustainable aviation fuel, and excludes the use of carbon offsets
2 SAFFiRE stands for Sustainable Aviation Fuel From [i] Renewable Ethanol 
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Last October we proudly unveiled our 10-year Environmental Sustainability plan to reduce our carbon emissions intensity* by at least 20% by 2030, maintain carbon neutrality to 2019 levels every year through the end of the decade, and replace 10% of our total jet fuel consumption with sustainable aviation fuel by 2030—all while continuing to grow our operations. This all ladders up to our larger goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
Efforts are well underway and I’m so proud of the Teams working to accomplish these goals. Environmental sustainability is a Team effort and to achieve these goals, every person at Southwest Airlines will need to play a role. Not to mention, we continue to stay actively engaged with our Customers, Corporate Partners, and Community Members on ways they can support environmental sustainability as well. Talk about a collaborative effort!
This Earth Day reminds us that we must invest in our planet and that addressing the climate crisis requires every business and every industry to take action. At Southwest, our purpose is to connect People to what’s most important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel. Investing in sustainability and working toward our climate goals is about ensuring we can continue to deliver on that promise because we believe that doing good for the planet is also good business.
Our path forward is not an easy one, but we’re committed to driving progress and change and remain proud of the steps we’ve taken so far:
Reduce: One way we continue to reduce our carbon emissions intensity is through our fleet modernization efforts as we recognize the importance of operating aircraft that are more fuel-efficient, optimal for our operation, and which provide our Customers a comfortable experience. To support that goal, in 2021, we restructured and increased our delivery schedule for MAX aircraft. As of February 2022, our fleet plans included an order book containing 84 MAX firm orders and 30 MAX options for 2022, as well as plans to retire 28 Boeing 737-700 aircraft in 2022, and for 30-35 737-700 retirements annually thereafter. This order book underscores our commitment to modernizing our fleet with more fuel-efficient aircraft.
Replace: We know that Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is critical to de-carbonizing aviation. We are working with various organizations to facilitate the development and production of SAF at significant scale. That includes a 15-year agreement with Velocys Renewables for 219 million gallons of SAF. As announced by Velocys, once blended with conventional jet fuel, this SAF could produce the equivalent of 575 million gallons of net-zero 1 fuel and avoid 6.5 million metric tons of CO2 over the term of the agreement. This agreement will allow us to utilize the lowest carbon intensity sustainable aviation fuel announced to date!
Offset: We continue to partner with CHOOOSE™ to enable Customers to contribute towards the purchase of carbon offsets for Southwest. During Earth Month, from April 22 to May 22, Southwest Customers can earn 2X Rapid Rewards points with every carbon offset purchase to mitigate the emissions associated with their travel while supporting projects that help reduce or avoid carbon emissions. These include supporting the Kootznoowoo Improved Forest Management Project in Alaska, the Los Santos Wind Power Project in Costa Rica, and the Guatemalan Conservation Coast.
Did you know we are the first U.S.-based airline with a carbon offset offer that includes loyalty points? Through this program, Customers can earn Rapid Rewards bonus points per dollar contributed to help Southwest offset its carbon emissions. And because we’re the airline with Heart, for every dollar you contribute, we will also contribute a dollar to the purchase of additional offsets.** Don’t forget, you can purchase offsets in response to your nonrevenue travel too! To participate visit Southwest.com/wannaoffsetcarbon.
Partner: Partnerships play a crucial role in our sustainability efforts, along with government support and collaboration throughout the entire value chain. We have several partnerships we’re excited about, including our work with Yale's Center for Natural Carbon Capture and Yale's School of the Environment. Last year we committed $10 million to fund activities at the center to support research into natural solutions for removing CO2 from the atmosphere. We also and are continuing our efforts to support government incentives to help facilitate the scaling of SAF. It’s critical we support the development of crucial science and technologies that will help us combat climate change.
The journey toward environmental sustainability doesn’t start and end on Earth Day. Our goal to Reduce, Replace, Offset, and Partner are important steps that we remain focused on year-round in our effort to create a more sustainable future.
Interested in learning more about all of the great work we have going on in the Environmental Sustainability space? Be sure to check out the 2021 One Report.
*Scope 1 and 2 emissions as compared to 2019, excludes the use of carbon offsets, includes the use of sustainable aviation fuel
**Taxes and fees will not be matched by Southwest or earn points. Rapid Rewards Members can earn 10 Rapid Rewards bonus points per dollar contributed towards the purchase of offsets for Southwest up to a maximum of 500 Rapid Rewards bonus points per month. Points will only be awarded to the Rapid Rewards Member’s Rapid Rewards account number entered at the time of the carbon offset transaction. Allow up to eight weeks for bonus points to appear in the Rapid Rewards Account. All offsets will be retired in the name of Southwest Airlines Co. Terms and conditions apply.
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At Southwest Airlines we seek to promote a better, healthier Planet, but we recognize we can’t accomplish it alone. Protecting our Planet requires a joint effort from individuals, communities, businesses, and state and federal governments all working together to do their part. That’s why we are excited to join the Vision 2045 campaign—a collaboration among multiple organizations and companies whose purpose is to share films that aim to inspire businesses and people to take action toward a more sustainable future.
For years Southwest has proudly shown our Heart for the Planet in many ways, including implementing fuel efficiency initiatives into our operations and supporting environment-focused partnerships and programs. Environmental sustainability is an ongoing priority for us, and we have set a goal to become carbon neutral by 2050. But, we recognize the importance of taking action in the near term, which is why we developed a robust ten-year plan to make progress this decade. We plan to reduce our carbon emissions intensity by at least 20% (compared to 2019) by 2030 and maintain carbon-neutral growth to 2019 levels every year through the end of the decade. There are a number of ways we aim to achieve this goal, and I encourage you to watch the video below to learn more!
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Over the years, Southwest has proudly shown our Heart for the Planet by working to operate efficiently and protect the environment. Environmental sustainability is an ongoing priority for us and we have set a goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. There is significant work underway, and we are excited to announce the launch of our 10-year Environmental Sustainability plan that works towards achieving our ultimate goal.
Through 2030, we plan to maintain carbon neutrality to 2019 levels, while continuing to grow our operations, and we plan to achieve these objectives through the following actions:
Reduce our 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 our 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 towards offsetting Southwest’s carbon emissions, Southwest will match the contribution.*
Our goal to reduce, replace, and offset are important next steps in the journey to build a holistic approach to improve our environmental sustainability, and we will continue to partner with different organizations and nonprofits whose work complements our efforts to improve environmental sustainability, as well as invite Customers to join in this effort to show kindness to our planet.
Southwest will 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 FAA’s 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 Chooose TM and Customers to 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.*
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 and Yale’s School of the Environment to research technological advancements and find new solutions to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions and 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.
I’m proud that 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. We look forward to continuing our sustainability journey – and updating everyone on our progress along the way.
*Taxes and fees will not be matched by Southwest or earn points. Rapid Rewards Members can earn 10 Rapid Rewards bonus points per dollar contributed towards the purchase of offsets for Southwest up to a maximum of 500 Rapid Rewards bonus points per month. Points will only be awarded to the Rapid Rewards Member’s Rapid Rewards account number entered at the time of the carbon offset transaction. Allow up to eight weeks for bonus points to appear in the Rapid Rewards Account. All offsets will be retired in the name of Southwest Airlines Co. Terms and conditions apply.
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