Delta Air Lines is launching a new innovation lab to accelerate research, design and testing for more sustainable air travel.
Why it matters: Aviation accounts for around 3% of global carbon emissions.
- Absent aggressive climate-friendly tech adoption, that share is likely to increase alongside air travel’s anticipated growth.
- The U.S. Transportation Department recently adopted an “Aviation Climate Action Plan” to tackle the problem.
Driving the news: Delta says its new Sustainable Skies Lab, announced Thursday at CES in Las Vegas, is unique in the airline industry because it goes beyond financial investments to work collaboratively with tech disruptors hoping to test and launch their ideas.
- “With aviation being a hard-to-decarbonize industry, none of us can do this alone,” the airline’s chief sustainability officer, Pam Fletcher, said in a statement.
- “We’re rolling out the welcome mat for disruptors of choice to take advantage of Delta’s global resources to accelerate our path to decarbonization and a fully sustainable travel experience.”
- Planned efforts include everything from eliminating single use plastics and electrifying ground equipment, to longer-term solutions like scaling the use of sustainable aviation fuel and exploring new means of propulsion, like hydrogen.
What they’re saying: Fletcher, who previously led electric vehicle innovation at General Motors, told Axios she’s optimistic Delta will reach its goal of net zero emissions by 2050 despite the challenges.
- “I think back to the EV journey. In the beginning, people thought EVs were underpowered golf carts, they weren’t smooth and they couldn’t accelerate.”
- “Look what happened because people were focused on the solution. That’s why I’m optimistic.”