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How Sara Bogdan is taking JetBlue towards net zero via SAF and more
"It is no secret that aviation has a real climate impact – and my fear is that in the long-term, if our industry does not take meaningful steps to decarbonize, our business is at risk. And so is what we offer society: a chance to explore and connect with the world." - Sara Bogdan, Head of Sustainability and ESG at JetBlue Airways
JetBlue plans to achieve net zero emissions earlier than most airlines in the world: by 2040. Counter-intuitively, most of JetBlue’s recent sustainability efforts – including the 2040 target – were thought out during the lull of the COVID-19 shutdown, when business was hurting and planes were grounded.
To get to net zero, the airline has committed to several short- and medium-term targets including reduction in aircraft emissions 25 percent per available seat mile (ASM) by 2030 from 2015 levels; 10 percent of total jet fuel to be from blended SAF by 2030; 40 percent of three main ground service equipment vehicle types to electric by 2025 and 50 percent by 2030; eliminate single-use plastics within service where possible; where not possible, ensure plastic is recyclable; and maintain at least an 80 percent recycling rate for audited domestic flights.
Meet the Changemaker
Sara Bogdan is the Director of Sustainability and ESG at JetBlue Airways. She manages a series of operational sustainability programmes that “better prepare the organisation for a changing and resource-constrained world”. This includes the execution of JetBlue being the first US airline to achieve regular carbon-neutral flying for all domestic flights via carbon offsets, investments in sustainable aviation fuel, and increasingly fuel-efficient operations.
Sara admits that the challenges of the last several years would have made it easy for JetBlue to abandon its sustainability goals, but in fact, adversity has only strengthened the airline’s commitment.
She offers two reasons for the passion that underpins her work – first, a deep concern for the climate. Her background is in climate change research, studying the vast impacts of a warming climate on wildlife. It is this work that inspired Sara to work in sustainability.
“I felt so deeply concerned about the climate crisis that I wanted to dedicate my efforts to implementing meaningful, tangible, and quantifiable decarbonising initiatives”, she says.
The second is her love for the industry and her company. Sara believes that while the air travel industry provides a critical service to society, we urgently need to pursue all solutions to allow us to continue to do so – with significantly fewer emissions. Read the rest of the interview with Sara Bogdan in our report, “Flying to Net Zero”.