You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

United Airlines shares plan to become ‘100% green’ by 2050

The Points Guy logo The Points Guy 12/10/2020 Zach Honig
a large passenger jet sitting on top of a tarmac © Provided by The Points Guy
MSN has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. MSN and The Points Guy may receive a commission from card issuers.

It’s impossible to operate a global airline in 2020 without negatively impacting the environment. But with United Airlines’ latest sustainability plan, that hopefully won’t be the case forever.

Over the next three decades, United plans to go “100% green” — primarily through the use of a technique called “carbon capture and sequestration,” or CCS, which could prove to be far more impactful than the industry’s current “carbon offset” approach.

Carbon offsets typically provide funding for projects that reduce our carbon footprint through the use of environmentally friendly practices, like building wind farms or planting trees. While those programs may play a part in United’s overall plan, they won’t move the needle to the extent the airline truly needs.

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter!.

Through a series of investments, United will help provide the funding necessary to build CCS plants, which can then capture carbon from industrial sources like power plants — or even directly from the air — and store it underground, so it’s unable to enter the atmosphere.

From there, the carbon could even be used to help extract oil, through a technique called enhanced oil recovery, helping CCS plants turn a profit — and, ultimately, making it possible for United to monetize its investment.

While it might not seem like the ideal time for United to be making new financial commitments — considering the carrier’s steep pandemic-related lossesCEO Scott Kirby says the recent crisis has served to highlight the need to take action.

a desktop computer sitting on top of a desk: While new aircraft investments help, they don’t move the needle enough. Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy. © The Points Guy While new aircraft investments help, they don’t move the needle enough. Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

“The pandemic has, if anything, emphasized the importance of what we’re doing. While we were planning to invest in this, work on this project before the pandemic, what has become clear during the pandemic, even more starkly, is that we are a part of a global community, and everything that happens everywhere around the globe affects us.”

Kirby has also pledged to continue to invest in alternative fuels, which could help reduce emissions as well, though he acknowledged that electric and hydrogen propulsion aren’t feasible solutions for a long-haul airline like United.

Investing in newer planes won’t have a significant enough impact, either. While long-haul aircraft like the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner help reduce emissions by employing lighter materials and other design improvements, they still contribute a significant amount of carbon to the environment.

Kirby hopes United’s latest move will get the industry thinking about CCS as a potential solution as well. “It’s easy to think ‘I’m doing my part,’ by using traditional carbon offsets,” Kirby said. “I want to encourage them that that’s not enough, and to do more. And if we all do that, we really can solve this problem.”

Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

SPONSORED: With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.

And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free. 

These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.


More From The Points Guy

The Points Guy
The Points Guy
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon