United Airlines doubles down on wokeness [UPDATED]

Fresh off of its announcement of a plan to make women and “people of color” 50 percent of its new pilot hires, United Airlines has taken its wokeism one giant step further. It has “committed to being 100% green by reducing our carbon emissions 100% by 2050.” The airline says it “has invested in ground-breaking technology to make our goal a reality” but acknowledges that “there’s still a long way to go.”

I imagine so.

In its quest to be “100% green,” United is “invest[ing] in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF),” which it calls “the fastest and most effective way to reduce emissions across our fleet.” The company’s chairman, Scott Kirby, invites members of the public to “make a personal contribution for our purchase of SAF.”

In other words, Kirby wants the public to help pay for United’s fuel. For the sake of the planet, of course.

United’s pilot hiring plan is seemingly illegal. Its “100% green” aspiration is seemingly impossible.

A friend shares my skepticism about United’s ability to meet its goal of reducing carbon emissions by 100 percent. He writes:

I am not sure how an airline can do that without going out of business, even allowing for all the benefits of a diverse pilot force.

Possibly we will have planes with solar panels for wings, each the size of a football field, or maybe the size of Rhode Island (I’m no expert). Out of business is clearly the easiest option.

As unhinged as it has become, United should consider getting a head start by going out of business now.

UPDATE: I understand, as my friend does, that United Airlines isn’t contemplating deploying solar panel wings the size of a small state. We were having a laugh.

There are proposals to use green ethanol for jet fuel. There’s a project to produce jet fuel from garbage. Even if, in theory, these projects could take an airline to “100% green” status, the subsidies required to accomplish this seem prohibitive.

But like my friend says, we’re no experts.

Here is Chairman Kirby’s full message:

This Earth Month, we have a lot to celebrate at United. We’ve committed to being 100% green by reducing our carbon emissions 100% by 2050 and have invested in ground-breaking technology to make our goal a reality. But there’s still a long way to go. And today, we’re launching an industry-first effort that has the potential to play a significant role in the global fight against climate change.

The Eco-Skies Alliance program is a new way for companies to join United in our investment in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), the fastest and most effective way to reduce emissions across our fleet.

We’re already the largest airline purchaser of SAF in the world, and today, big brands like Deloitte, DHL Global Forwarding, HP Inc. and Siemens will join us to purchase the emissions reductions from approximately 3.4 million gallons of SAF this year. That’s enough to fly travelers over 220 million miles. By joining forces, we’re demonstrating what companies can achieve when they come together for the greater good.

At the same time, we know our customers are looking for ways to do their part, so we’re giving you an easy way to participate and take action. Right now, you can make a personal contribution for our purchase of SAF. Since strong federal and state policy leadership are essential to making change happen, you can also get involved by connecting with your elected officials to advocate for policies that could make air travel more sustainable.

This is just the beginning. We expect to add more corporate partners to our Eco-Skies Alliance program this year, and we’re planning to give you even more visibility into the carbon impact of air travel — including easy ways for you to help contribute to real, scalable solutions.

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