United Airlines

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

Climate Lobbying Overview: United Airlines appears to have mixed engagement on climate policy in 2021-23. United has expressed top-line support for net-zero CO2 emissions from aviation by 2050 and supported a US blenders tax credit for sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs). However, the organization remains a member of multiple industry associations opposing climate legislation.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: 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. 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 CO2 emissions for US aviation 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, accessed in 2022, 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. In its 2022 10K report, published in February 2023, United also appeared to use its support for SAF incentives and carbon pricing to oppose other forms of regulation.

Engagement with Climate Related Regulations: United appear to have limited engagement with climate policies in 2021-23, 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. United’s Corporate Responsibility Report, accessed in February 2023, also stated that United “worked with federal policymakers…to champion the Sustainable Skies Act SAF Blenders Tax Credit”. CEO Scott Kirby further appeared supportive of SAF incentives legislated under the Inflation Reduction Act in United’s January 2023 Earnings Call. Kirby also asked administration officials to support incentives for SAF, according to a February 2021 Associated Press report. United further appeared to advocate for the inclusion of aviation fuel in California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, according to their 2021 CDP response.

Position on Energy Transition: United’s corporate webpage, accessed in 2022, suggested 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. Similarly, a January 2023 press release described SAF as “the most effective and scalable tool the airline industry has to reduce carbon 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. However, in it’s 2022 10K report, published in February 2023, United 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 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. 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.

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 Q1 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.