It’s Tuesday, April 6, and a group of airlines is pledging to go net-zero. 

The aviation industry trade group Airlines for America said last week that its 10 member airlines — which include Delta, United, and American Airlines — have pledged to zero out their carbon emissions by 2050, joining several other international airline groups and alliances aiming to meet the Paris Agreement target. 

In a report outlining the “flight path” to net-zero, Airlines for America said that it would work with its members and the U.S. government to rapidly increase the supply of sustainable aviation fuel, which can be created from household waste, farm scraps, and animal fats. It also pledged to work to electrify airport ground equipment and streamline the air traffic control system so planes can avoid wasted fuel.

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Aviation currently accounts for only about 2 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, but airline emissions were growing rapidly before the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on travel demand. And, as the pandemic subsides, experts expect traffic to resume

It’s hard to say whether Airlines for America will follow through on its pledge, which includes many requests for government support through tax credits and research funding. But it’s an encouraging sign from a sector that urgently needs to cut carbon emissions. “Today, we embrace the need to take even bolder, more significant steps to address this challenge,” Nicholas Calio, the president of the group, said in a statement

Shannon Osaka

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