Environmental sustainability

United’s ambition is to lead the way in pioneering the future of aviation with environmental responsibility and sustainability at the forefront.

This starts by acknowledging the challenge in front of us. Aviation is considered a hard-to-abate sector, which means we don’t currently have the scaled decarbonization solutions we need to achieve our climate targets. This is exactly why United remains focused on scaling and deploying the in-sector solutions we need. We are committed to tackling the primary root cause of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—combustion of conventional jet fuel—so that we can realize meaningful, long-lasting change that supports a more sustainable future for travel.

Key highlights

A- CDP score

SBTi validated mid-term targets

Most Innovative Ranked as one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies

Lauren Riley Chief Sustainability Officer

As I reflect on the past year, I am proud of the progress United has made to advance a future of sustainable flight. United is committed to achieving our goal of net zero GHG emissions by 2050 and we continue to lead the industry in advancing sustainability. This year, we’ve refined our strategy to emphasize the importance of collaboration across all of United, the aviation industry and well beyond to achieve our goals. Together, we can advance the solutions we will need to reduce emissions—in the air and on the ground—from travel.

A reimagined strategy: Sustainability is no longer confined to our flights. We’ve reimagined our four strategic pillars to encompass our entire enterprise. From ground operations to onboard customer experiences, sustainability is ever present in the decisions we make. It’s not merely an add-on; it’s ingrained in the very DNA of our organization. We recognize that our responsibility extends beyond the skies, and we’re committed to addressing every aspect of our environmental impact.  

External recognition and progress: Our efforts have not gone unnoticed. In 2023, we received validation for our 2035 mid-term carbon emissions intensity target from the Science-Based Target initiative, and our CDP score stands as the highest among all US carriers. While these accolades reinforce our dedication to making a positive impact, this is not just about recognition, it’s about progress. We’ve taken significant steps toward achieving our sustainability goals, and we’re committed to continue moving forward. 

Holistic approach, holistic impact: Our commitment extends beyond compliance. We’re actively driving operational efficiencies, empowering our workforce, and offering sustainable choices to our customers. It’s about minimizing our carbon footprint, reducing waste, and creating a positive ripple effect throughout the industry.  

Innovation and financing for change: We are pioneering innovative financing mechanisms because we believe we are catalysts for change. By investing strategically, we seek to accelerate the adoption of sustainable alternatives, such as sustainable aviation fuel, which will support aviation’s transition to sustainable flight.

Proactive influence and collaborative efforts: At United, we recognize that achieving more sustainability in aviation requires collaboration across the entire value chain. This means engaging our travelers with sustainable options, forming strategic partnerships with our industry peers and fostering a collective effort with suppliers, governments, non-profit institutions and more, to successfully decarbonize air travel.

As we move forward, we will continue to lead with integrity, knowing that our actions today shape the future of aviation tomorrow, and together, we’ll work to achieve our commitment to net zero GHG emissions by 2050.

Thank you for being part of this journey.

Our environmental strategy

United Airlines is the first global airline to commit to achieving net zero GHG emissions by 2050, without relying on the use of voluntary carbon offsets.

Learn more about Our environmental strategy

Roadmap to net zero by 2050

Aviation currently contributes around 3% of global GHG emissions, and without action, that is expected to increase. This is because not only are United and the industry growing, but as other sectors in the economy progress their decarbonization efforts, aviation’s proportional contribution will rise. United recognizes that the challenge we face is one that must be met with urgency, bold action and integrity. United is committed to tackling the root causes of our GHG emissions, the bulk of which come from conventional jet fuel.

Learn more about our roadmap to net zero

Sustainability efforts at every altitude

United is committed to further embedding sustainability across our operations. From our customer experience and our employee spaces to the communities in which we serve, we understand that our operations need to reflect our company’s focus on safety, dependability, efficiency and sustainability.

Learn more about sustainability on board and on the ground

Collaborating to drive environmental progress

We recognize that the journey towards the future of sustainable aviation cannot be traveled alone and requires active and ongoing collaboration across the value chain, with stakeholders like policymakers, customers, airports, cross-industry partners, fuel producers, NGOs and more, to significantly reduce the emissions from flying.

Learn more about collaborating to drive environmental progress

Climate risk & opportunities

United understands that it is important to not only identify the potential impacts of climate change on our business, but to develop and integrate appropriate response plans.

Learn more about Climate risk & opportunities

Environmental compliance

At United our ambition is excellence in compliance. We leverage a robust environmental management system that supports our goal to do the right thing while maintaining reliable operations across the business.

Learn more about our environmental compliance