Today, 60 companies in the World Economic Forum’s Clean Skies for Tomorrow Coalition – whose mission is to accelerate the deployment of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) – achieved a milestone on the path to net-zero emissions by 2050 by working together to power global aviation with 10% SAF by 2030.
As aviation remains a “hard to abate” sector in reducing Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, strong climate action from the industry is particularly important as travel begins to return to pre-pandemic levels. Accelerating the supply and use of SAF technologies to reach 10% of global jet aviation fuel supply by 2030 is a significant move to put the aviation industry on the path to net-zero emissions.
This will only be possible through the concerted effort of industry leaders. The following organizations have signed the 2030 Ambition Statement:
- Airports Council International
- American Airlines
- ANA Holdings Inc
- Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL)
- Bank of America
- Biodiesel Association of India (BDAI)
- Boston Consulting Group
- British Airways
- Carbon Engineering Ltd.
- Cathay Pacific Airways
- Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW)
- Delta Air Lines
- Deutsche Post DHL Group
- Dubai Airports
- Fulcrum BioEnergy
- Heathrow Airport
- Indian Institute of Petroleum
- International Airlines Group
- Japan Airlines
- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
- McKinsey & Company
- Norsk e-Fuel AS
- Novo Nordisk AS
- oneworld alliance
- Praj Industries Limited
- Punjab Renewable Energy Systems Pvt Ltd
- Qatar Airways Group
- Royal Schiphol Group
- San Francisco International Airport
- Sydney Airport
- The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)
- United Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
- Visa Inc.
Signatory companies include airlines, airports, fuel suppliers and other aviation innovators from around the world. They also include non-aviation companies that rely on corporate air travel for their business operations, demonstrating that the responsibility of decarbonizing the industry lies with all those who depend on the aviation sector.
“Achieving our ambition will require commitment, innovation and cross-industry collaboration from a wide range of stakeholders,” said Lauren Uppink Calderwood, Head of Aviation, Travel and Tourism at the World Economic Forum. “We are calling on governments, international organizations and others to work with us to take important steps forward through new policies, targeted investments and regulations that create a level playing field while incentivizing transformation.”
This statement is also in full support of the UN High Level Climate Champions’ 2030 Breakthrough Outcome for aviation, one of over 30 sectoral near-term targets that are critical to halving emissions by 2030 and delivering the promise of the Paris Agreement.
Achieving net-zero aviation
SAF is fully compatible with existing aircraft and is a viable industry solution in the transition to 2030 and beyond. Members of the Clean Skies for Tomorrow Coalition are championing the commercial scale of viable production of sustainable low-carbon aviation fuels (bio and synthetic) for broad adoption in the industry.
Actors across the aviation eco-system agree on the need to first reduce, as far as possible, the emissions caused by the sector. This reduction can be achieved through efforts including the optimization of routes, increased energy efficiency from aircraft design and improved ground operations. Stakeholders such as airports can play an increasingly important role in the adoption and uptake of SAF by developing SAF operational plans or kickstarting co-funding mechanisms.
Synthesized from sustainable, renewable feedstocks – such as municipal waste, agricultural residues and waste lipids, or developed through a power-to-liquid route – SAF has already fuelled more than 250,000 commercial flights.
Difficulties remain in getting SAF to scale up production due to its prohibitively high price gap with fossil-based jet fuel, resulting in a “chicken and egg” problem with supply and demand. Costs will fall if production scales up, but fuel providers are facing headwinds due to high price pressure on low SAF demand, and high risks associated with policy and investment uncertainty. Demonstrating sufficient demand and policy certainty will be crucial to building investor confidence, hence the power of this major commitment from the leading companies in the aviation energy value chain.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel Certificate (SAFc) system
To make this concerted effort possible, the Clean Skies for Tomorrow Coalition has developed a Sustainable Aviation Fuel Certificate (SAFc) system, a new accounting tool that will allow SAF emissions reductions to be claimed by travellers and cargo customers if they are willing to cover the higher costs.
The proposed system also handles fuel supply chain logistics by delivering SAF stock to airports nearest the production plants. With existing technologies and digital demand platforms such as the SAFc, best-practice sustainable aviation can reduce GHG emissions on a lifecycle basis by up to 80%.
The key to long-term net-zero aviation will be to incentivize demand for SAF-fuelled air travel. With this ambitious 10%-by-2030 coalition commitment, members are motivated to aggregate demand for carbon-neutral flying. Some are championing mechanisms including co-investment vehicles, industry-backed policy proposals, and creative value-chain stimulus programmes for corporate passenger and transport business customers.
“Progressing the development and commercial deployment of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is crucial to decarbonising the aviation industry. We are investing heavily in the development of SAF and have partnerships with Velocys in the UK and LanzaJet in the US which could see us powering our flights with sustainable fuel as soon as next year,” says Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO. “Earlier this month we were delighted to collaborate with bp to source enough sustainable aviation fuel with respect to all our flights between London, Glasgow and Edinburgh during COP26, substantially reducing the emissions associated with taking our customers to and from COP26 by up to 80% compared to traditional jet fuel. We need continued support from Government to scale up the development and use of SAF, which will be a game changer for our industry.”
“Delta is looking to the future of sustainable aviation while addressing the current impact of our carbon emissions. It is why we committed to carbon neutrality in March of 2020 and why we have also committed to setting a science-based targets to align with the Paris Agreement,” said Ed Bastian, CEO, Delta Air Lines. “This partnership with Clean Skies for Tomorrow builds a future for sustainable aviation by bringing together a coalition that will accelerate the supply and use of SAF technologies.”
“Our announcement today to reach 10% SAF by 2030 emphasizes our commitment to the planet and prosperity. Upscaling SAF with a global approach will boost India’s economy,” Ajay Singh, Chairman & CEO, SpiceJet. “Accelerating the SAF industry with a global approach will bring opportunities for economic growth and transformation in India.”
“We’re proud to be joining forces with more than 50 companies collectively committing to powering global aviation with 10% sustainable aviation fuels by 2030. It’s a crucial milestone towards achieving net zero flying by 2050,” says Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic. “From partnering on sustainable aviation fuels with LanzaTech in 2011, to becoming a founding member of the Jet Zero Council, Virgin Atlantic has been leading on sustainability for more than 15 years. Our partnership with Clean Skies for Tomorrow is another step forward in accelerating the global transition to sustainable aviation.”