Jet fuel accounts for more than 98 percent of Delta’s carbon footprint. That’s why Delta led the industry in 2007 by launching a carbon offset program to produce measurable benefits to the atmosphere. Today, all Delta passengers can track the environmental impact of their flight and purchase offsets through a partnership with The Nature Conservancy, an organization that strives to stop deforestation and promote alternative energy.
Tim Mapes, Senior Vice President – Marketing, not only helped set Delta’s sustainability standard in 2007, he personally buys carbon offsets. Delta News Network interviewed Mapes to learn why.
Delta News Hub: What is your personal connection to sustainable living?
Sustainability is very close to home in our family. My wife Mary actually serves on the Board of Directors for the Jane Goodall Institute. She grew up in Virginia (where the institute is based), marveling at the impact of Jane Goodall’s work and became very active in supporting the organization’s causes including human and social issues, animal welfare and environmental sustainability.
So in our family this has always been top of mind. Where possible we try to say, ‘Hey, what can we do as a family to give back.’ Purchasing carbon offsets was a natural choice.
DNH: How did the carbon offset program come to be and what is it?Delta focuses on supporting our customers and the communities we serve, a very important part of that is serving the environmental interests of these communities. As an airline that serves the whole planet, quite literally in over 60 countries, our focus has been on things that we as a company can do to ultimately help support the environment around the world.
The Nature Conservancy was a natural partner. They operate internationally and can help mitigate our environmental impact. This was very unique a few years ago.
When you fly a certain amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted for that flight, and our system lets you break that down by individual seat to see your personal impact. You can purchase carbon offsets that will neutralize the carbon impact right from Delta.com/co2. A carbon offset may mean planting a tree or investing in alternative forms of energy like wind or solar power. These offsets remove the same amount of harmful CO2 that your flight produced.
DNH: So why do you feel it is important to purchase carbon offsets?
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” And that’s true. All of these problems and all of these massive issues that nobody can do anything about, well in reality we can do something, but it requires each individual person to do their part; whether it’s changing to energy efficient lightbulbs, driving a hybrid or adjusting the thermostat.
For us carbon offsets are just one more example of something we can do that accumulatively, over time has a positive potential impact.
When you think about the 80,000 Delta employees or 170 million Delta passengers around the world, if everyone flying did this one little thing, there’s potentially enormous impact from simply the Delta universe. Together we can really drive global change.
DNH: What does Delta do to drive sustainability?
A lot of people don’t know of Delta’s enterprise-wide commitment to environmental sustainability. They may not even know of our annual corporate responsibility report. But here’s the thing, we do the right thing for the right reasons. Our motives and behaviors are incredible and there’s no reason that we should be shy about promoting those things.
Increasingly our employees, customers and even corporate accounts are interested in the steps we have taken to enhance and advance environmental issues or social responsibility. With that in mind it’s just as important from a marketing and communications stand point that we get the word out about what the wonderful people of Delta do to support these causes.
When you think about it, Delta’s corporate efforts include everything from purchasing newer, more fuel efficient aircraft and putting winglets on jets to finding new ways to source fuel. There’s a whole group of people assembled around this idea of continuous improvement. They continue to advance the way we do the things we do to help the environment and the global community.
As there is increased demand for sustainable practices from Delta leadership and customers we will see more and more programs to address it, like matching miles and more prominent placements on Delta.com.
DNH: What does Delta’s marketing team do to drive environmental sustainability?
Marketing is tasked with getting the word out and sharing the great things that Delta does, so that when you fly Delta you know The Nature Conservancy will benefit. Whether you’re buying carbon offsets or not—which hopefully you are. We want the Delta universe to know that Delta works with The Nature Conservancy and other carbon offsetting initiatives, we even announced a donation to the group on Giving Tuesday.
DNH: So what can customers and employees do?
To learn more, see Delta.com/responsibility.