Market-based Tools in Aviation

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


The Kinship Fellows program offered a rare opportunity to become immersed in market-based environmental approaches within a talented community.

Before joining the Fellows program, I served as an environmental protection specialist within the U.S. Department of Transportation. During that time, the Obama Administration promoted new energy conservation approaches and access to government-collected data to improve transparency. I saw an opportunity to leverage FAA aircraft flight path tracking and engine fuel burn performance to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. My original focus was to build a platform for consumers to compare carbon performance between different airlines and catalyze competition to reduce emissions. My goal was to learn how to connect with a broader audience and engage people without technical backgrounds. My challenge was having a limited understanding of how to present highly technical knowledge to the general public. In addition, I believed that the most compelling way forward was building a tool that rewarded voluntary participation based on sound economic choices.

The fellowship equipped me with tools to better communicate and connect with stakeholders and convey a sense of urgency regarding climate action. Using a market-based framework, I was able to rapidly differentiate between possible and non-viable strategies. The diverse Fellows and faculty contributed effective feedback and asked questions from unique perspectives. One key insight was learning how donors and foundations think in order to improve grant applications and other fundraising approaches. Another critical take away was the reminder to be pragmatic rather than dogmatic.

Since completing the program, I have moved to the Rocky Mountain Institute and Carbon War Room where I lead aviation operations. My carbon reduction focus has shifted from flight efficiency to second-generation and truly sustainable aviation fuels. I address market barriers delaying adoption. To screen new potential projects, I consider their economics, as well as the broad range of reactions that will ultimately determine their degree of success. Currently, my program is focused on the U.S. and Europe.

It is reassuring to know that can I reach out to the Fellows Community when my program grows to other parts of the world. I know the Kinship family will be an invaluable resource to ensure new fuel feedstock sources support local economic development, avoid competition for food, and do not adversely impact habitat.

Published November 2016

“The fellowship equipped me with tools to better communicate and connect with stakeholders and convey a sense of urgency regarding climate action.”