In hard-to-abate sectors like the airline industry, driving meaningful progress on environmental sustainability requires every possible tool available, and Southwest Airlines is taking up the challenge! We’re focused on our goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which will require a strategic mix of advanced long-term planning and near-term action. Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is the most impactful lever we currently have, and it’s why we are supporting this technology.
I’m proud of our innovative approach to supporting SAF, which is why it’s such an honor to be named a 2023 Sustainability, Environmental Achievement, and Leadership (SEAL) Business Awards winner in the Environmental Initiative category for our investment in SAFFiRE Renewables, LLC (SAFFiRE 1 ), as part of a pilot project supporting the development and production of SAF. The SEAL Awards recognize and honor individual programs and initiatives that move the needle on environmental progress and demonstrate leadership toward a sustainable future.
We’re grateful to be recognized by the SEAL Awards for our investment in SAFFiRE! And today, in recognition of World Environment Day, I encourage you to take a moment and familiarize yourself with the many ways Southwest is showing our respect for the Planet. Environmental sustainability is an important part of our present and future, and while challenges lie ahead, we are taking action across our four-pillar strategy to proactively address these challenges. Southwest.com/planet.
 Sustainable Aviation Fuel From [i] Renewable Ethanol
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Southwest Airlines goes from the skies to the big screen in an upcoming episode of EARTH with John Holden! EARTH with John Holden takes viewers around the world to learn how companies are implementing changes to protect the environment and promote a more eco-friendly world. In the episode, host John Holden travels to Texas and Colorado to learn how Southwest is investing in a Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) company to reduce the environmental impact of air travel by shifting the aviation market away from oil.
Our episode airs:
Sunday, April 23 at 5:00 pm ET on Fox Business Network
Sunday, April 30 at 3:30 pm ET and Sunday, May 7 at 3:30 pm ET on Bloomberg TV
The episodes are also available on the streaming platforms Vimeo, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Google TV, and YouTube
Specifically, the episode highlights Southwest’s investment in SAFFiRE Renewables, LLC (SAFFiRE), a company formed by D3MAX, LLC, as part of a Department of Energy-funded pilot project supporting the development and production of scalable SAF. SAFFiRE is expected to utilize technology developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to convert corn stover, a widely available agricultural residue in the U.S., into renewable ethanol that would then be upgraded into SAF. According to NREL, this could produce significant quantities of cost-competitive SAF that could provide an 84-percent reduction in carbon intensity compared to conventional jet fuel on a lifecycle basis.
For Southwest, this was a first-of-its-kind investment into what we believe could be a game-changing technology that could help us reach our environmental sustainability goals. SAF is critical to decarbonizing aviation, and we have a goal to replace 10 percent of our total jet fuel consumption with SAF by 2030.
At Southwest, our efforts with SAF could help us shift the aviation market away from oil while continuing to connect our Customers with what matters most to them. We’re excited to be featured on EARTH with John Holden, and share with the world more about our investment in SAFFiRE!
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As part of Southwest Airlines’ 10-year Environmental Sustainability plan, one of our goals is to Replace 10% of our total jet fuel consumption with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030. SAF plays a critical role in supporting our 2030 goals and ultimately reaching carbon neutrality by 2050!
Over the past year, we’ve continued to collaborate with different producers and partners to help make SAF commercially available. We have entered into a number of offtake agreements and memoranda of understanding to advance the commercialization of SAF. And, we are also engaging with corporate Customers! Many of our corporate Customers have their own environmental sustainability goals in which certain emission reductions from our use of SAF can play a role. Under the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, Scope 1 emissions generated by Southwest’s use of SAF are considered Scope 3 emissions for our Customers. Where SAF can help us address the Scope 1 emissions from our jet fuel, it can also give Corporate Customers, through our SAF Beta Program, the opportunity to purchase certain Scope 3 emission reduction rights associated with our utilization of SAF in our operations.
However, the amount of SAF produced in 2021 was less than 0.1% of global jet fuel demand, and today SAF is two to four times more expensive than conventional jet fuel. Some of our corporate Customers have expressed a desire to help develop this market, which is why we launched our SAF Beta Program. Through the SAF Beta Program, we engage with eligible Southwest Business Customers in agreements that support Southwest’s utilization of available, qualifying SAF in its operation.
How does this work? Our eligible Southwest Business Customers purchase certain Scope 3 emissions reductions rights from Southwest’s use of such SAF. This enables Customers to help Southwest implement SAF into our operation at a cost that is closer to conventional jet fuel than the 2-3X premium today, and sends a demand signal to SAF producers. To date, we are engaging with Deloitte, Siemens USA, and Zurich North America! We are excited by the interest in this program and look forward to growing it more in 2023!
As part of this program, we’re excited to share a new partnership with 4Air. 4Air is an aviation sustainability company providing consulting, documentation, and rating services. With 4Air, we will provide Southwest Business Customers in our SAF Beta Program with independently verified assurance for the Scope 3 emissions reduction calculations and documentation associated with their support of expanding the use of SAF in Southwest’s operations. Southwest has processes in place to track emissions-reduction rights for our corporate partners in the program, and we are proud to partner with 4Air to verify that the purchased rights to emissions reductions have been correctly accounted for!
Over the past year, we’ve made a number of exciting announcements related to our SAF efforts, like being the first airline to bring SAF to Oakland International Airport. Please visit southwest.com/SAF to learn more about our SAF efforts!
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At Southwest, we take pride in being the airline with Heart and that includes respecting our Planet. In October 2021, we announced our goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, and we released a 10-year plan to maintain carbon neutrality to 2019 levels while continuing to grow our operations. Our 10-year plan centers around the key focus areas Reduce, Replace, Offset, and Partner, and I’m impressed by the work we’ve done so far in each focus area. We couldn’t have done this without partnering with so many of you!
While our environmental sustainability journey is far from over, it is important we take a moment to celebrate the work we’ve done. Personally, I’m really excited about the following actions we have taken:
Investing in SAFFiRE, a Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Pilot Project
Becoming a Founding Member of the Aviation Climate Taskforce
Announcing 15-Year Agreement With Velocys for SAF
Committing $10 Million to Yale University to support climate change research
Adding SAF to our Oakland operations
Launching a Carbon Offset Offer for our individual Customers with Rapid Rewards Bonus Points, 1 and for every dollar contributed toward offsetting Southwest’s carbon emissions, Southwest will match the contribution. 2
If you’re interested in learning more about our environmental sustainability efforts, check out southwest.com/Planet. With both new and updated content, these web pages provide a great look at the different initiatives Southwest is focused on.
1 Taxes and fees (except for the processing fee) 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 Member’s Rapid Rewards account number entered at the time of the carbon offset transaction. Terms and conditions apply.
2 Carbon emissions for flight activity are estimated using several factors such as: aircraft type, conventional jet fuel consumption, flight distance, and assumed load factor. Emission estimates are based on the fleet wide distance-weighted average performance of Southwest’s flights from the Second Quarter of 2022. Southwest’s emissions estimates do not quantify the potential climate change impact of non-carbon emissions resulting from a flight. Actual carbon emissions may vary from estimates. All offsets will be retired in the name of Southwest Airlines Co.
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Southwest Airlines has evaluated, developed, and started executing various initiatives to improve environmental stewardship across our airline. Last month, we announced our 10-year plan to maintain carbon-neutrality to 2019 levels while continuing to grow our operations.
Ultimately, our goal—and the U.S. government’s goal for the aviation sector—is to be carbon neutral by 2050. This will likely require the innovation of new decarbonization technologies, which is why we became a founding member of the Aviation Climate Taskforce.
Environmental sustainability is a priority for us. That is why we are also looking outside of our industry to support research and development of solutions to climate change. We decided to support advances in natural carbon sequestration, which can have a significant impact on removing carbon dioxide from our atmosphere and mitigating the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. Our search led us to make a commitment to contribute $10 million to the Yale School of the Environment (YSE) and the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture (YCNCC). We will fulfill our donation through the Southwest Airlines Foundation, a corporate-advised fund within the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
Representatives from Southwest Airlines and Yale University met earlier this month to talk about progress and future plans for the center.The purpose of this contribution commitment is to fund activity at the center to research technological advancements and explore new solutions to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions. It will also help fund exploration of the current state of sustainability, strategy, policy, and economics—including a focus on finding new possibilities to reduce atmospheric carbon. This innovative partnership allows Southwest to support the development of crucial science to combat climate change.
“The climate crisis is the biggest challenge we face as a species,” says Michael Crair, vice provost for research at Yale. “To find solutions, we will need the very best efforts of scientists and policy experts at Yale and around the world. It’s a collaborative effort, and I am so grateful that Southwest Airlines has stepped forward to join our efforts in creating a sustainable future.”
We seek to team up with other environmentally-minded organizations to help us amplify our impact and make the planet a better, more sustainable place. It’s important to support initiatives that take a holistic approach to decarbonization in the long term. Scientific research and development are crucial to the success of tackling climate change, and we’re honored to support Yale’s groundbreaking work in this vital space.
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The following blog was co-authored by Helen Giles and Yvonne Ryan.
We seek to promote a better, healthier Planet, but we recognize we can’t accomplish it alone. Protecting our Planet is going to require a joint effort from individuals, communities, and businesses—all working together to do their part. That’s why Southwest Airlines is excited to announce a partnership with CHOOOSE™ that allows Customers to earn 10 Rapid Rewards ® bonus points per dollar contributed to help Southwest offset its carbon emissions, up to a maximum of 500 Rapid Rewards bonus points per month.*
Customers can show their Heart for the Planet by contributing funds for the purchase of offsets at Southwest.com/wannaoffsetcarbon. When a Customer contributes funds, those funds will be used to purchase carbon offsets sourced from global projects that avoid carbon emissions, including those that protect land that could otherwise undergo significant commercial timber harvesting or avoid unplanned deforestation and degradation.
For every dollar a Customer contributes, to help Southwest offset its carbon dioxide emission, Southwest will match the contribution, furthering our support of these important projects.*
This carbon offset offer is one part of the Company’s 10-year plan to maintain carbon-neutral growth to 2019 levels every year through the end of the decade while continuing to grow its operations. In addition to offsetting, the Company plans to continue modernizing its fleet with more fuel-efficient aircraft and support the development of sustainable aviation fuel.
This launch is an important component of our overall environmental sustainability plan to reduce, replace, and offset. Our ultimate objective is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, and partnering with CHOOOSE™ and our Customers is an exciting part of our journey.
*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 8 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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