COVID-19 and Climate Risk

Sep 22, 2020 3:00 PM ET

JetBlue does not view COVID-19 as ‘black swan,’ but a manifestation of a social risk unfolding in the context of the climate crisis as a risk multiplier. Climate change and human-induced land changes are drivers of infectious disease outbreaks1 . COVID-19 connects to the climate crisis because the latter only makes a pandemic more likely. For example, another (and hopefully not next) pandemic could easily be vector-borne (e.g. tick, mosquito) and multiplied through a wet, warm world.

JetBlue views both pandemics and the climate crisis as ‘gray rhinos.’ Both types of risks (and embedded opportunities) are large, obvious, and slow moving – but extremely dangerous and relevant on a global level. Both threaten international supply chains, markets, travel, and the communities JetBlue exists to serve. Both highlight that topics typically dubbed ‘environmental’ are intertwined with topics dubbed ‘social’ and vice versa.

Climate and Emissions

COVID-19 brought to light the need for a company to have a plan and ability to respond to urgent and systemic societal needs. When it comes to carbon emissions, JetBlue has laid out a staged approach to reducing our flight’s carbon emissions:

  1. Safely avoid emissions in the first place through a new, fuel efficient fleet and optimized operational efficiency;
  2. Leverage carbon offsets as a temporary and fiduciary responsible measure that can be enacted immediately without impacting service;
  3. Find and execute deals for sustainable aviation fuel offering up to an 80% lower carbon footprint, growing availability and our own supply over time;
  4. Work with our venture capital subsidiary, JetBlue Technology Ventures to invest in and gain early access to low-carbon travel solutions, like electric short-haul.

What To Expect in 2021

JetBlue was an early adopter of SASB and TCFD and will continue to leverage these frameworks in accordance with our shareholders expectations. In the first half of 2021, we will be releasing a comprehensive ESG report following the SASB standards and TCFD recommendations with the new addition of scenario planning and science-based targets.