Every link of the aviation supply chain is committed to making the industry greener and more sustainable. I’ve written many times before about the great advocacy of the Council on Sustainable Aviation Fuels Accountability (CoSAFA) and the aviation industry’s ambitions regarding its carbon footprint, but if we’re serious about decarbonizing aviation, one of the first stumbling blocks we need to overcome is to make sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) accessible and affordable all over the world. As of now, the technologies and infrastructures needed to make SAF widely available are not developed enough, and prices are not competitive. Neither the producer nor the consumer should be left with the cost burden… What we need to take the decarbonization of aviation to the next level is global political leaders and commercial and manufacturing sector collaboration.
In a historic move, Heathrow recently incorporated sustainable aviation fuels into its operations as part of its aim to become one of the world’s most sustainable airports. 58% of airlines at the London airport have already committed to 10% SAF usage by 2030. What’s additionally impressive is how the SAF available at Heathrow is made. HEFA (Hydrotreated Esters and Fatty Acids) is made from cooking oils, other fatty waste from the food processing industry, and vegetable oils. Understanding that political will is required, Heathrow is calling on the UK Government to set escalating mandates that require a minimum of 10 percent SAF use by airlines by 2030, increasing to at least 50 percent by 2050.
International governments need to push commercial incentives to encourage investment and stimulate demand. We are already seeing this happen. This is precisely what the World Economic Forum’s Clean Skies for Tomorrow Coalition was designed to do: provide a global mechanism for decision-makers and public leaders, both across and beyond the aviation value chain, to align on a transition to sustainable aviation fuels to ensure carbon-neutral flight is achieved. Similarly, according to Eurocontrol, the EU Commission’s ReFuelEU Aviation initiative is considering a SAF mandate requiring jet fuel suppliers at EU airports to blend an increasing percentage of SAF into their fuel from 2025. Looking east to Asia and recently, the CST has brought together a community of public and private institutions in India and established a specific goal to transport 100 million domestic passengers on at least a 10% SAF blend by 2030.
Before COVID-19 stalled international travel, aviation was responsible for 2-3% of overall global emissions, and, today, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects significant growth in air travel for the rest of the decade. I hope that with government intervention and encouragement, we will see much of this travel being wonderfully green.
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