United Airlines

InfluenceMap Score
Performance Band
Organisation Score
Relationship Score
Chicago, United States
Official Web Site:

Climate Lobbying Overview: United Airlines appears to have mixed engagement on climate policy in 2020-22. United has expressed top-line support for the Paris Agreement and supported a US blenders tax credit for sustainable aviation fuels, however the organization has also opposed an EU SAF mandate, an EU jet fuel tax and national ticket taxes. United remains a member of multiple industry associations opposing climate legislation.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: In December 2020, United communicated broad support for increased GHG emissions reductions, urging the aviation industry to be “bolder” than relying on offsetting measures. Additionally, in a November 2021 interview with CNBC, CEO Scott Kirby stated “we’re going to have to get the world to net-zero”, with United's 2022 Climate Lobbying report also appearing to disclose support for net-zero aviation emissions by 2050. United also stated their support for the US re-entering the Paris Agreement in a January 2021 Twitter post. Evidence from their corporate webpage suggest United support government regulation to respond to climate change, however, in their 2021 CDP response United appears to use their support for the global CORSIA offsetting scheme for aviation to oppose more stringent regional/national climate policies.

Engagement with Climate Related Regulations: United appear to have limited engagement with climate policies in 2020-22, engaging predominantly with policies promoting sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). For example, in a May 2021 press release from Congressman Schneider, CEO Scott Kirby, described the Sustainable Skies Act, which included a proposed US blenders tax credit for SAF, as a “critical step”. United also signed a joint letter to US policymakers in April 2021, urging the introduction of an SAF-specific blenders tax credit. In August 2021, they signed another 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. CEO Scott Kirby also asked administration officials to support incentives for SAF, according to a February 2021 Associated Press report. United also offer a platform on their website enabling customers to ask policymakers to enact legislation supporting the development of low-carbon fuels. United further appeared to advocate for the inclusion of aviation fuel in California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, according to their 2021 CDP response.

In contrast, United’s submission to the 2020 EU consultation on ReFuelEU Aviation suggests United are unsupportive of an EU SAF mandate, arguing it would be “counterproductive” and may “undermine SAF’s long-term commercial viability”.

Position on Energy Transition: United appear to have negative engagement with the energy transition for aviation. For example, in a 2020 response to an EU consultation on the Energy Taxation Directive, United stated opposition to a proposed EU fuel tax, questioning the legality of the proposal. United also appear opposed to national ticket taxes, arguing such taxes “undermine CORSIA” and “do not provide environmental benefits” in another 2020 EU consultation response. United’s corporate webpage in 2022 also suggests they strongly support the increased use of SAF within aviation, however, it remains unclear if this position is aligned with IPCC recommendations. In a January 2021 Twitter post, United described SAF as “the fastest and most effective way” to reduce aviation emissions. CEO Scott Kirby was also reported to have praised those recognizing the need to support SAF-powered flying, in a Houston Business Journal report in April 2021. Regarding hydrogen-electric aircraft, in a December 2021 newsletter CEO Scott Kirby stated “hydrogen-electric engines are one of the most promising paths…for smaller aircrafts”. Scott Kirby also 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”. United Airlines also appeared to support the use of carbon, capture and storage for the aviation sector in a March 2022 US consultation response.

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 on the board of directors for the US Chamber of Commerce, Airlines for America A4A and International Air Transport Association (IATA), all of which have active and negative engagement on climate legislation. United CEO, Scott Kirby, is also a member of the Business Roundtable, which has mixed engagement on US climate regulation.

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.