The US has escaped the “flight shaming” movement that’s gaining popularity in Europe, but environmental awareness is gaining stature across all aspects of the US industry, and investors appear to be taking notice.
During a recent earnings discussion, executives from Delta Air Lines were queried about the airline’s efforts in environmental sustainability. CEO Ed Bastian concluded that environmental, social and governance (ESG) is “probably a bigger point of emphasis in Europe today than it is in the US. But it’s going to grow here as well”.
He concluded ESG is “something that we are paying attention to. I think investors will increasingly pay more attention to [it], and it’s going to be a point of pride for Delta people…”
The global aviation industry at large has committed to reduce it global footprint by 50% by 2005, which will require that “we need to continue to reduce our footprint by up to 2% per year, which is right in line with where were are today on fuel and emissions”, Mr Bastian explained.
Delta is also making other smaller efforts to reduce its environmental footprint including committing to eliminating single use plastics onboard its aircraft and in its lounges. The airline is also planning to phase out using plastic wrappers for its blankets.
There are also practical reasons for Delta’s focus on eliminating waste. “…sustainability goes hand-in-hand with efficiency because as the waste is reduced, right, there is a cost savings associated with that”, company COO Gil West explained.
ESG criteria are a set of standards for a company’s operations that socially conscious investors use to screen potential investments. Environmental criteria consider how a company performs as a steward of nature; social criteria examine how it manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates; governance deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights.