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United Airlines

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If the airline industry were a country, it would be among the top 10 greenhouse-gas emitters. To accelerate a paradigm shift beyond Petroleum-based jet fuel, United Airlines last year launched the industry’s first-of its-kind investment fund dedicated to supporting startups focused on the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). If researchers can figure out how to use alternative fuel feedstocks efficiently, SAF could work in existing planes, so the industry is embracing it as the fastest path to decarbonization. The United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund now has more than $200 million in investments from the airline as well as corporate partners including Google, Boeing, and Air New Zealand; United customers have also chipped in nearly $500,000. “Solving climate change is doable but it requires hard work and real leadership,” United’s chief sustainability officer Lauren Riley says. “These investments … will help us scale real solutions that have the potential to decarbonize commercial aviation.” Ten startups developing SAF-related solutions have received funding thus far. United says it has invested in the future production of 5 billion gallons of SAF, more than any other airline in the world.

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