CNBC anchor Joe Kernen ripped the meaningless political theater by woke CEOs who pontificate about renewable energy to fight climate change but have no real sense as to how to fully transition away from fossil fuels.
United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby joined the Feb. 21 edition of CNBC's Squawk Box to cast himself as a patron saint of the growing ESG standards-obsessed movement through his new $100 million sustainable flight fund that seeks to supposedly “decarboniz[e] air travel.” “It’s a first of its kind,” Kirby propagandized. “We’re not just buying sustainable aviation fuel [SAF]. We’re really investing in the technology, the R&D, the companies that are trying to build this industry because this industry doesn’t really exist today.”
He even praised President Joe Biden’s multibillion-dollar, inflation-stimulating Inflation Reduction Act as making “hundreds of potential [SAF] projects feasible that weren't feasible before.” Uh, what? In Kirby’s estimation, “This is all about trying to change the supply and change the economics.” Kernen wasn’t buying it, and implied that what Kirby was doing was the equivalent of simply sticking “your toe in the water” to make his company seem woke.
CNBC reporter Phil LeBeau tried to get Kirby to give a time frame on how fast the transition from jet fuel to SAF would be given that the latter was approximately “two to four times more expensive than jet fuel.” Kirby just danced around the question and never gave a straight answer. Kernen then pointed out just how insignificant Kirby’s $100 million virtue-signaling fund really was: “Goldman Sachs’ Jeff Currie points out: ‘Over the last ten years we’ve spent $3.8 trillion on renewables and fossil fuels went from 82 percent of energy consumption to 81 percent.’” Talk about having a negligible effect. Kernen proceeded to make Kirby’s ESG scheme look ridiculous:
Whenever I talk about the need for not rushing the transition away from fossil fuels, I always think about global commerce and how important it is for FedEx and United and — you name it — to be able to go around the globe and jet fuel is how you do that. So, I mean, a $100 million — I get it — but you guys spend billions on other things.
Kernen then tried to get Kirby again to be realistic about the time frame it would take to replace the jet fuel that United uses with renewables. “Ten years? Fifteen years? Fifty years? What is a realistic number without just, you know, feeling good about doing this,” Kernen asked.
Kirby again deflected from answering the question directly. Rather, Kirby just decided to play it safe by saying he does "pay attention to climate change” and alluding to the obvious that the global transition wasn't happening “overnight.” He proceeded to gaslight how his fund and Biden's so-called Inflation Reduction Act created a "framework that you can make investments with certainty for the future." He continued: "I'm not a hundred percent sure how long it's going to take but I am certain that that's the only way to actually eventually get to an answer for SAF and for a hard-to-decarbonize industry like aviation." It's hard to see how Kirby is really "certain" of anything pertaining to his climate venture given his long-winded answer that didn’t really address Kernen's question.
Perhaps Kirby wasn’t able to give a truly definitive answer because maybe the concept of a complete green overhaul in the foreseeable future was just baloney. Kernen wasn't having any of it.
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