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American Airlines (American) announced its commitment towards setting a science-based target for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This move will sharpen the company’s strategy for reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, align its path with the global imperative of limiting temperature rise to well below 2°C, and bring additional accountability to its approach.

American is said to be the first airline in North America to begin the validation process with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). In doing so, American is committing to develop a 2035 emissions reduction target that will be reviewed by the SBTi to confirm its consistency with the latest climate science.

“We are building American Airlines to thrive forever, which is why we set an ambitious goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050,” said Doug Parker, chairman and CEO of American Airlines. “Now, we’re committing to set a science-based target for 2035 because the seriousness of the climate challenge demands it. We’ve already laid a strong foundation by prioritizing near-term solutions to reduce our emissions, like renewing our fleet with more fuel-efficient aircraft. Looking forward, we believe we have an obligation to our customers, team members, shareholders and the communities we serve to focus and accelerate our transition to operating a low-carbon airline. We view the work ahead as an opportunity to support the change necessary to protect our planet for future generations, and we welcome the accountability that comes with taking this step.”

By committing to set a science-based target, American becomes a signatory to the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign and joins Race To Zero, a global campaign backed by the United Nations that aims to rally support for a zero-carbon economy from businesses, cities, investors and other non-state actors.

“The science is clear: in order to limit the catastrophic impacts of climate change, we must ensure warming does not exceed 1.5°C,” said Paul Simpson, CEO of CDP, one of the SBTi partners. “The ambition is high but it’s achievable — and science-based targets give companies a roadmap for getting there. Corporations worldwide have an unprecedented opportunity to be at the very forefront of the transition to a net-zero economy, and there is no time to lose.”

American’s plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 is based on an emissions reduction strategy that includes fleet renewal, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and operational improvements. Details on American’s initial path to net zero are available in the company’s ESG report.

American has been taking delivery of SAF since mid-2020 and has committed to using 9 million gallons by 2023. In May 2021, the airline reached a milestone when it took delivery of its 1 millionth gallon of SAF at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

Moving forward, American will continue to work with policymakers and industry partners on efforts to improve the U.S. air traffic control system, which will be essential for lessening the impact of aviation on the climate, with the potential to reduce millions of tons of CO2 each year.


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