Air Cargo Industry Leaders Target 10% Sustainable Aviation Fuels by 2030
- Sixty companies, including airlines, airports and fuel suppliers, have committed to making sustainable aviation fuels 10% of global jet fuel supply by 2030. Boeing, BP, Deutsche Post DHL Group and Delta are among the industry stakeholders who signed the pledge, announced by the World Economic Forum’s Clean Skies for Tomorrow coalition in September.
- Accelerating the supply and use of sustainable aviation fuels, which use alternatives to crude oil, will help put the aviation industry on a path to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the World Economic Forum said in a press release.
- British Airways could power its flights with sustainable fuel as early as next year, Chairman and CEO Sean Doyle said in a statement. The airline has worked with BP to supply enough for flights between London, Glasgow and Edinburgh for the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference, reducing emissions by up to 80% compared to traditional jet fuel.
Sustainable aviation fuels, known in the industry as SAF, have been highlighted as a critical part of reducing emissions as sustainability becomes a higher priority among freight shippers. The ability of SAFs to power large airplanes is something that electric power cannot currently provide, and UPS has called it “the only decarbonization route for the aviation industry” in its. Global Reporting Initiative Report.
But SAF barely made a dent in the global jet fuel supply. Less than 200,000 metric tonnes were produced in 2019, which is less than 0.1% of commercial airline fuel used that year, according to a report from WEF and McKinsey.
High costs and limited supply have limited the widespread adoption of SAF, leading to a “chicken and egg” problem where producers and transporters are reluctant to shoulder the burden of the initial investment to make SAF competitive, the WEF press release said.
“Costs will fall if production increases, but fuel suppliers face headwinds due to strong price pressure on weak demand for SAF and the high risks associated with policy and investment uncertainty,” said the WEF.
Signatories to the 2030 pledge are pushing for production of SAF on a commercial scale to drive widespread adoption, and the WEF said the pledge is expected to boost investor confidence. With or without investor confidence, the airlines that reduce their carbon footprint the fastest will be used more by shippers trying to meet their own sustainability goals, Greg Bolléfer, executive vice president of business development and products at freight forwarder Green Worldwide Shipping, said in August.
Industry stakeholders are also pushing for governments to get involved in promoting AFS. Glyn Hughes, chief executive of the International Air Cargo Association, said in August that governments should subsidize or invest in SAF research and development to reduce production costs. FedEx Chief Sustainability Officer Mitch Jackson introduced the Sustainable Skies Act as a bill in Congress that could encourage increased production, but it has not gone beyond the introduction phase of the lodge and Senate.