Chicago – based United Airlines committed to a multimillion-dollar investment on a industrial-sized direct air capture technology known as direct air capture.
It will capture planet-heating carbon dioxide from the air in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint in the air. An industrial plant with the technology will be based in the Permian Basin in Texas.
The move comes after the company’s pledge earlier this week to eliminate 100 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. United Airlines is the latest airline to respond to the growing concern over climate change and the industry’s effect on the planet.
Unlike other airlines also promising to monitor their carbon footprint, United Airlines won’t rely on carbon offsets and ‘indirect measures’ to reduce emissions. Instead, it will follow tech companies like Microsoft, who have funded diverse and newly developed carbon capture technologies in the past.
“These game-changing technologies will significantly reduce our emissions, and measurably reduce the speed of climate change — because buying carbon offsets alone is just not enough,” said Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines via a press release.
The project will take place in an industrial-size plant in the US. Its goal is to capture one million tons of CO2 in a year directly from the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide it collects will be stored underground. The plant will not lead to new oil production, according to Steve Oldham, CEO of Carbon Engineering.
United is also starting to invest in sustainable aviation fuel, which generates less emissions than traditional jet fuel. It is currently used in Los Angeles.
“Direct air capture technology likely will be needed to curb global emissions and United should get credit for investing in a promising technology, but there are still some questions about the scope of its investment”, said Simon Nicholson, co-director of the Institute for Carbon Removal Law and Policy at American University to the Chicago Tribune.