The International Air Transport Association (IATA) anticipates government action to facilitate aviation’s decarbonisation, as agreed upon during the Third Conference on Aviation Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3) hosted by The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Dubai.
During the pivotal CAAF/3 conference, multiple critical agreements were forged, signifying a stride towards sustainable aviation. Among these agreements, a cornerstone was the establishment of a global framework aimed at promoting the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) across all geographies worldwide. The primary objective set forth was ambitious yet crucial: to ensure that aviation fuel by 2030 becomes five per cent less carbon-intensive compared to the fossil fuel currently employed within the industry.
CAAF/3 also acknowledged the differing capacities of various states to adopt and advance in the field of sustainable aviation. Recognising these discrepancies, the conference introduced measures such as capacity building initiatives, the proposition of a “Finvest Hub” and voluntary technology transfers. These measures were designed to facilitate and ensure the participation of all countries in a globally integrated SAF market.
Further, the conference emphasised the pressing need for a solution that would not only stimulate the global SAF market but also enable airlines to offset their decarbonization obligations against the environmental attributes of their SAF purchases. This necessitated the establishment of a robust accounting framework for SAF.
Expressing the urgency of the situation, Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, underscored the indispensable role of SAF in achieving the industry’s commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050. Walsh urged immediate and robust policy implementations by governments worldwide to facilitate the exponential growth of a global SAF market.
IATA noted that the demand for SAF within the aviation industry significantly exceeds the current availability. Despite limited access, airlines have demonstrated their commitment by purchasing all produced SAF in 2022, incurring an additional cost of approximately USD 500 million due to its premium pricing over traditional jet fuel. Airlines have also entered into forward purchase agreements totaling around USD 45 billion, reflecting a substantial commitment to future SAF procurement.
Walsh further stressed the necessity for governments to act promptly on the CAAF/3 declarations by implementing policies that foster innovation, stimulate production, promote competition, and attract financing. The objective is to address the burgeoning demand for SAF across the globe comprehensively.IATA’s call to action for governments involves policies that maximise SAF production globally. These policies would enable producers to leverage local feedstock availability, emphasize positive rather than punitive measures, favor renewable energies, and recognize the collective responsibility shared in achieving net-zero carbon emissions.
“The goal is maximising SAF production everywhere with positive, not punitive, policy measures. Airlines are ready with open arms to catch the resulting SAF production. While airlines are at the sharp end of decarbonisation, they cannot bear the burden alone,” said Marie Owens Thomsen, IATA’s Senior Vice President Sustainability and Chief Economist.
“CAAF/3 has again made it clear that aviation’s decarbonisation will require the wholehearted and united efforts of the entire value chain and governments as we all focus on net zero by 2050. To be perfectly clear, where government money leads, private money will follow. It is absolutely essential that governments play their part, and we will certainly play ours”, added Owens.