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, albeit limited, engagement on climate change. United Airlines has expressed top-line support for climate action and the energy transition in the aviation sector, but the company has also opposed jet fuel taxes in the EU and the US. United Airlines remains a member of multiple trade associations opposing climate legislation, including Airlines for America, which has negatively and actively lobbied against US climate policy for aviation.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: In December 2020, United Airlines communicated broad support for increased GHG emissions reductions for aviation, urging the industry to commit to going beyond offsetting measures to reduce its climate impact. A statement by United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby in December 2020 supported the need for aviation to reduce its absolute emissions through sustainable aviation fuels and carbon capture and sequestration. However, evidence from the 2019 10-K report of United Airlines emphasizes cost concerns around climate regulation, and United Airlines does not appear to have explicitly supported the Paris Agreement.

Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: United Airlines appears to have low transparency regarding its positioning and engagement with aviation climate policy in 2018-20. United Airlines in 2020 does not appear to provide a clearly identifiable disclosure of its climate-relevant policy positions and lobby on its website, with no evidence found on its website regarding its engagement with climate policy.

In its 2020 CDP disclosure, United has disclosed some engagement with energy efficiency and global climate measures at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) but does not disclose clear positions on such policies. Similarly, United Airlines’ 2019 10-K report describes the EU ETS and the ICAO CO2 standard without disclosing their engagement or positioning regarding such legislation.

Positioning on Energy Transition: United Airlines appears to have negative engagement regarding policies promoting the energy transition for aviation, with some limited positive CEO communications. In a 2020 response to an EU consultation on the Energy Tax Directive, United Airlines stated opposition to a proposed EU fuel tax, questioning the legality of the proposal. In September 2018 United Airlines appeared to oppose a proposed New Jersey jet fuel tax, which a United Airline executive criticized for promoting “few flights and less job growth” and described as “unlawful” as collected taxes would be used for non-aviation purposes. Contrastingly, in a December 2020 blog post, United Airlines CEO, Scott Kirby, stated support for transitioning towards a lower-carbon aviation industry by promoting sustainable aviation fuels and carbon capture and sequestration Notably, in the same post, he criticized carbon offsetting for aviation, emphasizing the need to take “the harder, better path of actually reducing the emissions from flying”.

Industry Association Governance: United Airlines publicly discloses a partial list of its memberships to industry associations on its website without disclosing its direct engagement with them on climate change, their climate policy positions, and the company’s role within each association. United Airlines has not published a review of its alignment with its industry associations. Senior executives from United Airlines are board members of Airlines for America and International Air Transport Association (IATA), who are actively lobbying against ambitious climate policy in the US, and globally, respectively. A senior executive for United Airlines is a also board member of the US Chamber of Commerce, which is actively and negatively lobbying US climate policy.

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.