MIAMI – Delta Air Lines (DL) has joined the First Movers Coalition with the aim to accelerate and scale the development of breakthrough technologies and fuels, reducing greenhouse gas emissions in hard-to-abate industries like aviation.

The collaboration with the coalition, a public-private cooperation platform, is led by the US State Department and the World Economic Forum. The initiative, which represents DL’s being “the world’s first carbon-neutral airline,” was announced during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26).

Amelia DeLuca, Managing Director of Sustainability at DL, said via a company press release, “This coalition will help spur the markets and policy environment essential to developing the sustainable fuels and technologies needed to combat climate change.”

Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

Delta Air Lines SAF, GHGs Goals

Delta has set a goal to replace at least 5% of conventional jet fuel demand with SAF that produces an 85% reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions as compared to conventional jet fuel by 2030, pending availability and feasibility.

This adds to the company’s previous target of procuring 10% SAF by 2030, guaranteeing that half of our SAF originates from feedstocks with the lowest lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions.

The new partnership is the latest in a series of commitments DL has made to achieve its sustainability goals. In March 2020, the carrier became the first carbon-neutral airline globally, later agreeing to set science-based targets in line with the Paris Agreement and joining the United Nation’s global Race to Zero campaign.

Photo: Delta Air Lines

SAF Market

Notably, the SAF market is still in its infancy, with SAF fuels costing three to five times as much as fossil jet fuels. The First Movers Coalition aspires to scale up the solutions needed to combat climate change while driving down — and eventually eliminating — the green premium on clean solutions by simultaneously increasing demand for developing fuels and technologies and advancing their commercialization.

Delta says that as a founding member of the coalition, it is committed to making a long-term impact by investing in critical decarbonization solutions, such as sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

These investments will aid in the development of new markets for cost-competitive, low-carbon technology, a must to achieve a net-zero future by 2050 while staying below the vital 1.5°C climate target.

Featured image: Delta Air Lines N107DU Airbus A220-171. Photo: Michael Rodeback/Airways