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CHICAGO: August 04, 2019. Air France, Delta, KLM and Virgin Atlantic expect to offset more than 1,800 tonnes of CO2 emissions from operating 15,000 flight segments during the 2019 Global Business Travel Association convention from August 03-10 this year.

“These offsets are symbolic of our continued commitment to sustainability and our long-term target of reducing our carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050,” commented Delta senior vide president Bob Somers.

“I’m also pleased [that] Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic have committed to increase the ease of purchasing carbon-offsets for all our customers who book their travel,” he added.

Delta Fuel Truck PhotoMost of the carbon offsets will be purchases funding the International Small Group and Tree Planting program (TIST) that encourages subsistence farmers to improve their local environment and farms by planting and maintaining trees on degraded and/or unused land in India, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

As the trees grow, carbon captured is quantified and verified and certified greenhouse gas credits are sold in the global carbon market. More than 88,000 farmers in four countries have successfully planted 18 million trees and captured nearly five million tonnes of CO2 to date, according to Delta.

The airline also has offsets in place with the business travel of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Columbia Sportswear, Merck and UCB Biopharmaceuticals and says it is looking to expand the programme.

“Delta’s ambition is to be the leader in corporate sustainability. We’ve learned so much from working with our customers as well as Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic as we look to expand and solidify what a broad sustainability programme for our corporate accounts can be,” Somers added.

Airline Climate Strategy manager Stephanie Zhu has now joined GBTA’s Sustainability and Responsibility Committee: “This opportunity to serve on GBTA’s sustainability board means that Delta will continue to have a voice in a larger endeavour across the travel sector as we all move toward long-term sustainability goals,” Zhu said.

Delta says it was the first US airline to voluntarily cap carbon emissions at 2012 levels by purchasing carbon offsets ahead of the ICAO CORSIA implementation, which caps international aviation emissions at 2019/2020 levels.

However the airline industry, like many other sectors, may be overshooting the runway of 2050: According to Joachim Schellnhuber, founder and now director emeritus of the Potsdam Climate Institute, "The climate math is brutally clear: While the world can't be healed within the next few years, it may be fatally wounded by negligence until 2020."

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