Delta Air Lines

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Performance Band
Organisation Score
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Atlanta, United States
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Climate Lobbying Overview: Delta Air Lines appears to have mixed engagement with specific climate policies in 2020-22. Delta has consistently advocated for a US sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) blenders tax credit in the US, while having negative engagement on numerous strands of other climate-related regulations, including the US Renewable Fuel Standard. Delta remains a member of multiple industry associations with active negative engagement on US, EU, and global climate regulations for aviation.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: Delta has mixed top-line messaging on climate change, with increasingly positive messaging in 2022. In its March 2022 ‘Climate Lobbying’ Report, Delta appeared to support both a net-zero 2050 carbon emissions goal for aviation and the Paris Agreement. In a 2021 BBC article, Delta CEO, Ed Bastian, also stated that “moving aviation to net-zero carbon emissions is the right approach”, while a Senior Executive disclosed that Delta are conducting “constructive conversations with policymakers” and advocated for “strong federal climate leadership” in a September 2021 news release. More negatively, Delta’s 2022 Climate Lobbying report suggests Delta is unsupportive of stringent regional climate regulation for aviation, stating “without global harmonization, a patchwork of regional or national measures would only serve to increase the administrative burden and cost for airlines”.

**Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: Delta has mixed engagement on key climate-related regulations for aviation. In its March 2022 ‘Climate Lobbying’ report, Delta stated support for ICAO’s CORSIA offsetting scheme. However, in the same disclosure, Delta also appeared to support the change from CORSIA’s baseline date from 2019-20 to 2020 only, weakening the emissions reduction potential of the scheme.

Delta appears to have consistently advocated for policy incentives for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). In August 2021, the company signed a joint letter to policymakers, advocating for a refundable SAF-specific blenders tax credit. Similarly, in November 2021, Delta endorsed the state of Georgia’s introduction of grants for SAF under the ‘Aviation Emissions Reduction Opportunity (AERO)’ Act, according to a Senator Warnock press release. Delta’s 2021 ESG report, published in June 2022, also expressed support for a federal SAF-specific blenders tax credit and Reuters reported in May 2021 that Delta signed a letter of support to policymakers, advocating for a SAF tax credit. In its 2022 ‘Climate Lobbying’ report, Delta also disclosed that it supported SAF provisions in the Build Back Better package. Delta, however, appears unsupportive of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) mandates in its 2022 ‘Climate Lobbying’ report, stating that opposition to SAF mandates “reflects the aviation industry’s concern that mandates, rather than incentives will not support the industry’s ambitious decarbonization goals”. Delta’s 2021 ESG report also stated that climate policy for aviation should be “designed to incentivize rather than mandate a zero-carbon trajectory at the lowest-cost…in order to commercialize the nascent SAF industry”.

According to a May 2021 report by Reuters, Delta also supported weakening obligations from the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS), allegedly arguing that the costs were “overly burdensome”. Similarly, Delta disclosed in its 2022 Climate Lobbying report that it had advocated to weaken the US Renewable Fuel Standard by supporting lower volume requirements. In the same report, Delta also disclosed opposition to applying the Washington cap and invest legislation to aircraft emissions. However, in Delta’s 2021 ESG report, published in 2022, and in a June 2022 news release, Delta appeared to support California’s low-carbon fuel standard as a measure to incentivize SAF production through a voluntary opt-in provision.

Positioning on Energy Transition: Whilst Delta appears supportive of the inclusion of SAF within the airline industry’s energy mix, it appears to have mixed engagement on the energy transition. In its 2021 ESG report, published in 2022, Delta stated that SAFs “will play a key role in aviation’s decarbonization pathway” and appeared to support a shift to power-to-liquid fuels “over the long term”. Nevertheless, Delta seems to support the long-term use of oil in the energy mix. In a February 2020 interview with CNBC, CEO Ed Bastian stated that: “We will continue to use jet fuel for as far as the eye can see”. Bastian later clarified in the same interview that “we’ll be investing in technologies to reduce the impact of jet fuel, but I don’t ever see a future where we’ll eliminate jet fuel from our footprint”. Amelia DeLuca, Delta’s Managing Director of Sustainability, stated that SAF must be “just as accessible as oil” in an October 2021 newsletter and in an interview published by Shell in March 2022, De Luca expressed support for SAFs alongside electric and hydrogen-powered aircraft.

Industry Association Governance: In March 2022, Delta published its first review of its industry association memberships and their alignment on climate change. Delta identified areas of misalignment with three industry associations: American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), Business Roundtable, and US Chamber of Commerce including steps it has taken to address these misalignments. However, the company retains membership to all three industry associations, including executive positions at AFPM and US Chamber, despite consistent and negative opposition to ambitious climate policy. Delta also disclosed membership to International Air Transport Association (IATA), and that its CEO is on the board of Airlines for America (A4A), both of which negatively engage on climate policy for aviation.

A detailed assessment of the company's corporate review on climate policy engagement can be found on InfluenceMap's CA100+ Investor Hub here.

InfluenceMap collects and assesses evidence of corporate climate policy engagement on a weekly basis, depending on the availability of information from each specific data source (for more information see our methodology). While this analysis flows through to the company’s scores each week, the summary above is updated periodically. This summary was last updated in Q3 2022.

Strength of Relationship

How to Read our Relationship Score Map

In this section, we depict graphically the relationships the corporation has with trade associations, federations, advocacy groups and other third parties who may be acting on their behalf to influence climate change policy. Each of the columns above represents one relationship the corporation appears to have with such a third party. In these columns, the top, dark section represents the strength of the relationship the corporation has with the influencer. For example if a corporation's senior executive also held a key role in the trade association, we would deem this to be a strong relationship and it would be on the far left of the chart above, with the weaker ones to the right. Click on these grey shaded upper sections for details of these relationships. The middle section contains a link to the organization score details of the influencer concerned, so you can see the details of its climate change policy influence. Click on the middle sections for for details of the trade associations. The lower section contains the organization score of that influencer, the lower the more negatively it is influencing climate policy.