Air travel and Greta Thunberg--how to invest

Love her or not, Greta Thunberg has brought attention to a very real issue: air travel is very bad for the environment and over the long term either needs to clean up and/or get replaced by less environmentally harmful forms of travel.

I have a couple not great ideas for how to invest in this notion: ODFL, CNI, TSLA.

What do you think? Other ideas?

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Zoom of course. How many people are flying for work? Lots. I want to live in a world where I can just pop on a screen instead of hopping on a red eye. Zoom is making that happen.

I’m not invested in Zoom for the moment because I do see revenue growth slowing down and I am not sure how to value the company. But I love it and would like to get into it if it goes on sale sometime soon.

I’m thinking about opening a starter position.


While air transport represents a relatively small percentage of overall carbon emissions when compared to ground transport, it is also not insignificant, especially due to the fact that most of the emissions are released at a high altitude in the atmosphere which amplifies their harmful environmental impact.

The US Navy has recognized that availability of oil might be impaired for any number of reasons during a conflict. They are (or were) actively engaged in the development of jet fuel that was at least 50% biofuel. This was before fracking, I don’t know if this has changed. The Navy was not being driven by environmental concerns, but addressing those concerns to some extent was most definitely seen as beneficial.

Separately, commercial air transport has collectively (via international trade organizations, most notably the ATA - Air Transport Association) recognized pollution as a significant problem. They too in a combined effort with airframe, jet engine makers and refineries have done research and even had test flights with various biofuel blends with petroleum fuel. There were multiple biofuel sources under investigation ranging from algae to a seed that came from a plant the enjoyed a natural habitat hostile to most commercial crops. My recollection was that the plant grew wild in the arid conditions of the Australian outback. If memory serves, there were questions regarding large scale cultivation. And while I said “separately” the military and commercial research was conducted by the same institutions. It was coordinated in order to avoid redundancy of effort and shared to a large extent.

My familiarity with this research is rather dated, but I think it safe to assume that it is still an active effort, probably receiving DARPA funding on the military side and some portion of internal R&D budgets on the commercial side. The goal was to develop fuel and associated engines that could operate on any mix of fuels from 100% petroleum based to 100% biofuel. The stated goal was to develop a jet fuel that had life-cycle zero carbon emissions. The initial target was large scale production, distribution and utilization of a 50/50 fuel. “Life-cycle” is intended to capture carbon emissions as well as carbon capture from cultivation through final consumption.