At Southwest Airlines®, we take pride in being the airline with Heart and that includes respecting our Planet. Our goal is to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which will require a strategic mix of advanced long-term planning and near-term action. We are working to make progress across our strategic areas of focus to help us achieve our near and long-term sustainability goals and beyond.
Environmental Sustainability Goals
Innovative technologies continue to create potential to improve the fuel efficiency of our aircraft. Projected reductions rely on our own ability to implement our fleet modernization plans and on manufacturers to deliver aircraft and other technologies.
SAF is the most critical lever in achieving our net zero goal. We assume, among other things, that the SAF market will scale in alignment with the U.S. government's SAF Grand Challenge.3 Additionally, we assume that SAF will reach an average carbon intensity (CI) of 15 gCO2e/MJ by 2050 given that the Clean Fuel Production Credit (CFPC) incentivizes lower carbon intensity SAF.
Includes continued investment in internal fuel saving measures such as route optimization, single engine taxiing, engine washing, weight savings, and other initiatives.
Fuel efficiency improvements are anticipated over time due to air traffic control and other initiatives implemented by the FAA.
While offsets aren't part of our depicted Path to Net Zero, they may play a role in contributing toward our 2050 net zero goal if any of the levers above are unable to provide currently anticipated reductions.
For additional details on our environmental sustainability goals and initiatives, including our efforts across our four pillar strategy, please see the latest One Report.
1Per revenue ton kilometer basis (including Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 Category 3 emissions (upstream emissions of jet fuel)); includes the use of SAF and excludes the use of carbon offsets.
2Detailed risk factors, including those specific to extreme weather events and climate change, are discussed under the heading "Risk Factors" in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2022.
3See U.S. Department of Energy's SAF Grand Challenge Roadmap released September 2022.
4Verified 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.
Environmental Sustainability Plan
Environmental sustainability is an important part of our present and future, which is why we have set long-term and near-term goals. Although challenges lie ahead, our efforts across our three strategic areas of focus, Carbon, Circularity, and Collaboration, demonstrate our intent to overcome them.
Our plan includes reducing our carbon emissions intensity by 25% by 2030 and 50% by 2035 as compared with 20191. SAF is a critical component of our carbon emissions intensity reduction goals and overall sustainability strategy, and we have set a target to replace 10% of our total jet fuel consumption with SAF by 2030.
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.Learn more about SAF
Our SAF partners
In 2022, the total amount of SAF produced in the world amounted to around 0.1% of global jet fuel demand.7 We support the U.S. government's SAF Grand Challenge ambition for three billion gallons of cost competitive SAF available to U.S. aircraft operators by 2030, which will require a significant increase in SAF production. 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, corporate Customers, policymakers, and other stakeholders to help develop this nascent market.
We are also addressing our carbon emissions through fleet modernization and operational efficiencies. Some of our efforts include:
- Modernizing our fleet by adding the more fuel-efficient Boeing 737-7 and 737-8 aircraft and accelerating 737-700 retirements.5 The 737-7 and 737-8, powered by CFM International LEAP-1B engines, include design updates which result in less drag and further optimize performance, especially on longer-range flights. According to Boeing, the 737-7 and 737-8 have a 14% lower rate of fuel burn than the previous generation of 737 aircraft.6
- Improving efficiency in our operations through fuel savings initiatives like vertical and lateral flight planning algorithms, performing single engine taxiing when possible, reducing the overall weight of onboard interiors and assets, and investing in new technologies such as our Central Monitoring System, which allows us to better monitor certain systems and equipment in real-time.
- Electrifying our ground services equipment (GSE) that directly support the operation of the aircraft at the gate in support of our goal to electrify 50% of eligible GSE system-wide by 2030 (baggage-tugs, belt-loaders, and pushbacks).
- Purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) certified by an industry-recognized third party to target our Scope 2 electricity emissions while working towards our goal to reduce our energy consumption in our Dallas Corporate Campus by 50% by 2035 relative to a 2022 baseline as well as align to the Company’s overall net zero carbon emissions by 2050 goal
6The 737-8 is approximately 14% more fuel-efficient than the 737-800. The 737-7 is expected to produce comparable fuel efficiency improvement compared with the 737-700.
As an airline, we generate waste and use natural resources. It’s important to address our impact, and we are working to increase circularity in our operations through sourcing, recycling, and upcycling.
What does circularity mean at Southwest?
Circularity at Southwest means working towards reducing waste through maximizing the value of resources by keeping products and materials in circulation as long as possible, such as, for example, through reusing, recycling, and considering what happens to a product at the end of its lifecycle from the time that we start to source it
This is an ongoing journey. Some of our current initiatives include:
- Working to improve recycling in our operations through expanding access, improving data collection, increasing education, practicing consistency, and governing our recycling efforts. In addition to our onboard recycling efforts, we have initiatives to recycle old crew uniforms and materials in the aircraft we retire. For more information on our recycling initiatives and 2022 data, please refer to our latest One Report
Reducing single-use plastics from our inflight service by 50% by weight by
2025 and eliminating them from inflight service where feasibly by 2030,
depending on the availability of operationally and commercially feasible alternatives1
- In evaluating this goal, the Company completed an analysis of existing onboard products2 and potential alternatives. We concluded that all materials have sustainability trade-offs (for example, recyclability vs. energy required to produce) and decided to move forward by striving to source products that are made from non-fossil fuel materials
- Since 2014, our Repurpose with Purpose upcycling program, a global sustainability initiative, has upcycled used aircraft seat leather into new products while proudly giving back and partnering with communities all over the world. For more information on this program, please visit: https://www.southwest.com/citizenship/people/community-outreach/repurpose-with-purpose/
- Weight compared to a 2022 baseline and includes plastics for inflight service
- Onboard products include (1) the packaging (e.g., cans, plastic bottles) from our snack and beverage program; (2) service ware items including cups, lids, straws, stir sticks, napkins; and (3) other miscellaneous packaging (e.g., polywrap, coffee creamer)
Partnerships play a crucial role in our sustainability efforts. We partner with different organizations and nonprofits whose work complements our efforts to achieve our goals and advance environmental sustainability.Learn more about our sustainability partners
We are proud to partner with CHOOOSE™ to offer our Customers the opportunity to offset their carbon emissions by providing the first U.S.-based airline offset offer with loyalty points and matching contribution.11Learn more about carbon offsets and the projects we support
8Verified 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.
9CORSIA, or the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, is a global market-based measure to reduce emissions from international flying through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). In October 2022, the cap on international civil aviation carbon emissions for participating operators was updated to 85% of 2019 levels from 2024-2035.
10Detailed risk factors, including those specific to climate change, are discussed under the heading "Risk Factors" in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2022.
11Carbon emissions for flight activity are estimated using several factors such as: aircraft type, conventional jet 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 the Second Quarter of 2022. Southwest's emissions estimates do not quantify the potential climate change impact of non-carbon emissions resulting from a flight or non-flight factors, such as the production or transportation of conventional jet fuel to the aircraft prior to takeoff. Actual carbon emissions may vary from estimates. 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 spent on offsets 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. Southwest's matching contribution will be used to purchase additional offsets to support global projects, and such additional offsets will be retired for Southwest. Terms and conditions apply.
Environmental Sustainability News & Videos
Earth with John Holden
Southwest Airlines goes from the skies to the big screen in an episode of EARTH with John Holden! EARTH with John Holden takes viewers around the world to learn how companies are implementing changes to protect the environment and promote a more eco-friendly world. In the episode, host John Holden travels to Texas and Colorado to learn how Southwest is investing in a SAF company to reduce the environmental impact of air travel by shifting the aviation market away from oil.
Repurpose with Purpose
In 2021, we welcomed the Tropical Agricultural and Higher Education Center (CATIE) to the Repurpose with Purpose family! Repurpose with Purpose is a global sustainability initiative that upcycles items such as leather seat covers and transforms them into new products. Through leather and cash grants from Southwest, this program will provide Costa Rican women the support to learn to not only craft beautiful products made from the upcycled leather, but also how to market the products in order to generate economic impact for their families and community.