At Southwest Airlines®, we take pride in being the airline with Heart and that includes respecting our Planet. Our goal is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and in October 2021 we released a 10-year plan to make progress this decade. Through our key focus areas Reduce, Replace, Offset, and Partner, we’re taking action to accomplish our goals.
Environmental Sustainability Goals
- Achieve carbon neutrality by 2050
- Maintain carbon neutral growth to 2019 levels every year through 2030 by:
- Reducing our carbon emissions, including scope 1 and 2, per available seat mile by at least 20% by 2030 as compared to 20191
- Replacing 10% of our total jet fuel consumption with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030
- Offsetting emissions through certified offsets2
1 Includes the use of SAF and excludes the use of carbon offsets.
2Certified offsets are defined as credits that have undergone independent third-party verification by an accredited verification body to have followed the methodologies and protocols of the applicable program in the development and execution of project activities.
10-Year Environmental Sustainability Plan
Environmental sustainability is an important part of our present and future, which is why we announced a 10-year environmental sustainability plan in 2021. Learn more about the 10-year plan below.
Our 10-year plan includes reducing our carbon emissions per available seat mile, including scope 1 and scope 2 emissions, by at least 20% (compared with 2019) by 2030 through fleet modernization, route optimization, and other initiatives, excluding the use of offsets.
How we plan to continue to reduce
- Modernizing our fleet by adding the more fuel-efficient Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and accelerating 737-700 retirements. The 737 MAX, powered by CFM International LEAP-1B engines, includes design updates which result in less drag and further optimize performance, especially on longer-range flights. According to Boeing, the MAX aircraft have a 14% lower rate of fuel burn than the previous generation of 737 aircraft.3
- Operating optimized routes through our vertical and lateral flight planning algorithms and providing our Flight Crews with more accurate and up-to-date wind data linked to the aircraft to take advantage of additional technological opportunities and leverage real-time wind profiles to reduce fuel burn. We also participate in Required Navigation Performance operations as part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Performance Based Navigation program, a key component of the Next Generation Transportation System, intended to modernize the U.S. air traffic system by addressing limitations on air transportation capacity and making more efficient use of airspace.
- Carrying out fuel-saving programs and policies, including performing single engine taxiing when possible, to conserve fuel, reducing the use of the auxiliary power unit and instead using electric ground power, and reducing the overall weight of onboard interiors and assets.
- Improving our operations by investing in new technologies such as our Central Monitoring System, which allows us to monitor systems and equipment such as baggage handling systems, glycol (deicing) equipment, Passenger boarding bridges, as well as resources like ground power and preconditioned air, in real-time.
- Electrifying our ground services equipment that are eligible for electrification, including baggage-tugs, belt-loaders, pushbacks, and power stows.
- Purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) certified by an industry-recognized third party to target our scope 2 electricity emissions. While fundamentally different instruments with different impacts, both offsets and RECs address our emissions footprint. As of May 2021, we matched 100% of our electricity consumption at our Corporate campus with RECs, while working to develop a comprehensive, longer-term renewable energy strategy for our corporate facilities.
Our 10-year plan includes replacing 10% of our total jet fuel consumption with SAF by 2030. We are collaborating with different producers and partners across the value chain to make progress.
What are sustainable aviation fuels?
SAF is fuel produced from non-fossil fuel sources that can result in lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than conventional jet fuel on a lifecycle basis. SAF is a drop-in fuel when blended with conventional jet fuel and is crucial to decarbonizing aviation.
Our SAF partners
In 2021, the total amount of SAF produced in the world amounted to less than 0.1% of global jet fuel consumption.4 As a member of Airlines for America, we support its goal to work with government leaders and other stakeholders to make three billion gallons of cost competitive SAF available to U.S. aircraft operators by 2030. In support of these goals, we have entered into offtake agreements with Velocys and Neste and Memoranda of Understanding with Marathon Petroleum Corporation and Phillips 66. We are also partnering with researchers like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), coalitions like the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative and the World Economic Forum’s Clean Skies for Tomorrow initiative, corporate Customers, policymakers, and other stakeholders to help develop this nascent market.
As announced in June 2022, we are also demonstrating our support of SAF by investing in SAFFiRE Renewables, LLC (SAFFiRE), a company formed by D3MAX, LLC, as part of a Department of Energy funded pilot project supporting the development and production of scalable SAF. SAFFiRE is expected to utilize technology developed by NREL to convert corn stover, a widely available waste feedstock in the U.S., into renewable ethanol that would then be upgraded into SAF.
According to NREL, this could produce significant quantities of cost-competitive SAF that could provide an 84% reduction in carbon intensity compared to conventional jet fuel on a lifecycle basis. For Southwest®, this was a first-of-its kind investment into what we believe could be game-changing technology that could help us reach our environmental sustainability goals.4https://airlines.iata.org/analysis/realizing-the-potential-of-sustainable-aviation-fuel
What is carbon offsetting?
Carbon offsetting is a climate action that enables individuals and organizations to offset the CO2 emissions associated with certain activities by supporting projects that reduce, capture, or avoid a proportional amount of CO2 emissions.Learn more about carbon offsets and the projects we support
We are proud to partner with CHOOOSE™ and our Customers to offset Southwest’s carbon emissions by providing the first U.S.-based airline offset offer with loyalty points and contribution match.**Carbon dioxide emissions for flight activity are estimated using several factors such as: aircraft type, fuel consumption, flight distance, and assumed load factor. Emission estimates are based on the fleet wide distance-weighted average performance of Southwest’s flights from second quarter 2021. Southwest’s emissions estimates do not quantify the potential climate change impact of non-CO2 emissions resulting from a flight. All offsets will be retired in the name of Southwest Airlines Co. Taxes and fees (except for the processing fee) will not be matched by Southwest or earn points. Rapid Rewards® Members can earn 10 Rapid Rewards bonus points per dollar contributed towards the purchase of offsets for Southwest up to a maximum of 500 Rapid Rewards bonus points per month. Points will only be awarded to the Member’s Rapid Rewards account number entered at the time of the carbon offset transaction. Terms and conditions apply.
We partner with different organizations and nonprofits whose work complements our efforts to achieve our goals and advance environmental sustainability.
Partnerships play a crucial role in our sustainability efforts. We are deepening partnerships within and outside of our industry whose work complements our efforts to advance environmental sustainability.
- Yale University's Center for Natural Carbon Capture. We’ve made a $10 million commitment to Yale University's Center for Natural Carbon Capture and Yale’s School of the Environment to fund research surrounding innovative natural solutions to mitigate net greenhouse gas emissions.
- Airlines for America. As a member of Airlines for America, we support its goal to work with government leaders and other stakeholders to make three billion gallons of cost competitive SAF available to U.S. aircraft operators by 2030.
- Aviation Climate Taskforce (ACT). We’re a founding member of the ACT, a nonprofit with a goal of accelerating breakthroughs in emerging technologies required to decarbonize the aviation sector such as synthetic fuels and direct air capture.
- Repurpose with Purpose. This global sustainability initiative upcycles items such as leather aircraft seat coverings and transforms them into new products. This supports communities by helping to provide employment, skills training, and donated products.
Environmental Sustainability News & Videos
At Southwest we seek to promote a better, healthier Planet, but we recognize we can’t accomplish it alone. Protecting our Planet requires a joint effort from individuals, communities, businesses, and state and federal governments all working together. That’s why we are excited to join the Vision 2045 campaign—a collaboration among multiple organizations and companies whose purpose is to share films that aim to inspire businesses and people to act toward a more sustainable future.
Repurpose with Purpose
In celebration of our 50th anniversary in 2021, we donated 50,000 pounds of used aircraft leather seat coverings to the Metro Nashville Public School (MNPS) district to support the expansion of our Repurpose with Purpose program into the public education community—for the first time ever! See what these K-through-12 artisans did with their materials!
Check out all of our environmental sustainability news releases, media updates, and more.Visit our media hub
The Southwest Airlines One Report
Explore our annual corporate social responsibility report, the Southwest Airlines One Report. This integrated citizenship report covers significant social, economic, and environmental stories, as well as data tables, and reporting frameworks, all through the lens of corporate Citizenship. Our disclosures are informed by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), and aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).