Leading corporations are seeking net zero goals for their greenhouse gas emissions, and a new, potentially game-changing analytical tool from Salesforce could help accelerate their efforts. JetBlue will be the inaugural airline to implement the software company’s first-of-its-kind “Net Zero Cloud” software, which will enable corporate customers to track their travel-related emissions on a granular, individual level.
Net zero goes mainstream
Net Zero Cloud is a clear demonstration that corporate net zero goal-setting has gone from pie-in-the-sky to a mainstream movement. Salesforce is a good example itself. The company launched in 1999 with a mission to build relationships through new software technology. Since then it has established a solid track record on climate action ,among other corporate responsibility challenges. Last year it ranked 137th on the Fortune 500, having moved up 53 places from its 2020 position.
Solving the net zero “pain point”
Net zero is a data driven goal, so assembling relevant data quickly and accurately is an imperative. It is also a huge challenge. On that point, Net Zero Cloud is designed to remove that obstacle.
“Accessing real-time, granular, and insightful emissions data has historically been a pain point as we track and work toward our decarbonization targets,” explains Sara Bogdan, director of sustainability and environmental governance for JetBlue. “We are excited by the prospect of quickly compiling accurate and up-to-date emissions data in an easy-to-use format through the use of Net Zero Cloud.”
As a Sustainable Travel Partner with JetBlue, Salesforce will be able to leverage the data to up the ante on its own net zero strategy, which includes keeping employee business travel emissions 50 percent below a 2020 baseline.
“The JetBlue Sustainable Travel Partners program will provide Salesforce with personalized, company-specific emissions data and actionable insights to help drive employee engagement, education, and behavior change at scale,” Salesforce explains.
The new data adds to Salesforce’s existing toolkit, which includes identifying opportunities to reduce emissions with different travel modes, such as choosing rail over air.
Why wait for sustainable aviation biofuel?
Salesforce notes that the Sustainable Travel Partner program also includes a joint plan to source 325,000 gallons of sustainable aviation fuel, towards a goal of 3 billion gallons in 2030.
That is a step in the right direction, though it is literally a drop in the bucket. Last April, the U.S. Energy Information Agency calculated that commercial aircraft in the U.S. alone used an average of more than 1.2 million barrels of kerosene-type jet fuel per day over a four-week period, or more than 50 million gallons per day based on the industry standard of 42 gallons per barrel.
The sheer size of the sustainable aviation fuel challenge demonstrates that new tools like Net Zero Cloud can play a key role in bringing down emissions quickly.
The zero-emission aircraft of the future
Jet biofuel is a more sustainable alternative to fossil-powered flight, and JetBlue is among a number of aviation industry leaders working to ramp up the global supply of biofuel and other alternatives that come under the sustainable aviation fuel.
However, these alternative fuels are not zero emission solutions. If the end game is to eliminate tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions, then electrification is the answer.
Electric flight is fairly close to commercial use in some respects, but in other ways it is far off in the future. Much of the near-term activity is focusing on smaller aircraft and regional routes, which offer the potential to for electric flight to compete with passenger railways and other ground transportation.
The prospects for electrifying larger aircraft over longer routes have improved in recent years, partly due to advances in hydrogen fuel cell electric technology. Still, the technology is a long way off from breaking into the 100-seat class.
Until more sustainable fuels and new aircraft technology are available, companies seeking to make a difference can still make significant progress on their net zero goals by focusing on the management side, and taking advantage of new, data-driven opportunities to strategize on how they approach business travel.
Tina writes frequently for TriplePundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes.