United Airlines

InfluenceMap Score
for Climate Policy Engagement
Performance Band
Organization Score
Relationship Score
Chicago, United States
Official Web Site:

Climate Lobbying Overview: In 2021-23, United Airlines is strategically engaged on climate policy, with positive engagement on 2050 net-zero targets and consistent support for US sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) blenders tax credits. However, United is negatively engaged on other strands of climate policy, including sustainability criteria for SAFs, and retains memberships to negatively engaged industry associations.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: United's 2022 Climate Lobbying report supported net-zero aviation emissions by 2050. Similarly, United’s Corporate Responsibility Report, accessed in February 2023, stated that “United has supported the adoption of more aggressive industry targets”, including Airlines for America’s goal of net-zero emissions for US aviation by 2050. However, United’s 2021 CDP response appeared to leverage its support for the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) to oppose more stringent regional and national climate policies.

Engagement with Climate Related Regulations: United supported policies promoting sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) in 2021-23. In August 2021, United signed joint letter to policymakers, advocating for a refundable SAF blenders tax credit for SAFs achieving at least 50% lifecycle GHG emissions reductions, and again disclosed support for the policy in its 2022 Climate Lobbying Report. United’s Corporate Responsibility Report, accessed in July 2023, stated that United “co-led a broad-based coalition…to champion passage of the Sustainable Skies Act SAF Blenders Tax Credit”, alongside expressing support for Illinois’ SAF blenders tax credit. CEO Scott Kirby further supported SAF incentives legislated under the Inflation Reduction Act in United’s January 2023 Earnings Call. In addition, United called to include aviation fuel in California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, according to its 2021 CDP response.

However, through the ‘SAF BTC Coalition’, United appeared to advocate for weaker sustainability criteria for SAFs to protect land-based carbon stores under the SAF blenders tax credit and Clean Fuel Producers Credit in February 2023 and December 2022 US consultation responses.

In a May 2023 Politico article, United CEO, Scott Kirby, reportedly supported a US carbon tax and carbon border adjustment mechanism. More negatively, its 2022 CDP response, United endorsed weakening the global Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) by advocating for a baseline of 2019 emissions to be maintained, rather than an average of 2019-20 emissions, reducing the emissions reduction potential of the policy.

Position on Energy Transition: On its corporate website, accessed in July 2023, United supported the increased use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). In a May 2023 Politico article, United CEO, Scott Kirby, also supported the increased use of SAF. United’s 2022 Climate Lobbying Report supported the electrification of the airline industry and the expanded use of green hydrogen. However, Scott Kirby stated in a December 2021 report by WBEZ Chicago, “we are not going to be flying big airplanes long distances with batteries…we’re going to be needing jet fuel to fly”. In its 2022 10K report, published in February 2023, United further appeared to oppose regulations that “require airlines to reduce flights or impose the cost of transition to low-carbon alternatives disproportionately on airlines”.

Industry Association Governance: In 2022, United published its first review of its industry association memberships and their alignment on climate change. United did not identify any areas of misalignment of its disclosed industry associations, being a member of the US Chamber of Commerce and on the boards of Airlines for America (A4A) and International Air Transport Association (IATA), all of which are actively and negatively engaged on climate legislation. Additionally, Lauren Riley, United’s Chief Sustainability Officer, is on IATA’s Sustainability and Environment Advisory Council. United CEO, Scott Kirby, is also on the Board of Directors at the Business Roundtable, which has mixed engagement on US climate regulation.

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 2023.

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.