Emerging and Cross-cutting Aviation Issues — Sustainable Aviation Fuels

Sustainable Aviation Fuels


Sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) are key to the achievement of ICAO global aspirational goals for international aviation. These proven technologies have the greatest potential to reduce aviation CO2 emissions, while contributing to the social and economic pillars of sustainable development. SAFs can be produced from a wide variety of industrial processes and sources, such as used cooking oil, waste, non-food crops, algae and recycled plastic. They can be used with modern aircraft without the need for modifications to the engine or fuel supply systems.


In November 2021, the ICAO Council approved new sustainability criteria for SAFs under the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), together with guidance on assessing compliance.


By using aviation fuels that meet the new sustainability criteria for SAF life-cycle CO2 reduction benefits and other environmental and socioeconomic Themes, aircraft operators engaged in international flights can claim associated reductions in their CORSIA CO2 offsetting requirements.


ICAO continued to maintain and update the ICAO Global Framework for Aviation Alternative Fuels (GFAAF), which is a database of information on aviation fuels, including news and announcements, details of past and ongoing projects, and facts and figures. Through the GFAAF, substantial progress has been registered, including the development of more than 20 SAF policies, nine conversion processes for the certification of SAF, and the distribution of such fuels by more than 40 airports to more than 360 000 commercial flights worldwide.


Many challenges remain in increasing the use of SAFs and their full deployment. For example, while the number of facilities capable of producing SAFs is growing rapidly around the world, there is still significant uncertainty on the share of this capacity that can be directed to aviation, compared to fuels produced for other sectors of the global economy. The novelty aspect of the SAF industry and its price gap with conventional fuels also represent a barrier for deployment. At the same time, these barriers might be overcome owing to increasing oil prices and the strategical need for diversification of energy sources. All States and various partners and stakeholders need to work together for the global funding and scaling up of SAFs. In this regard, ICAO is finalizing a new SAF initiative to support Member States through assistance, capacity-building and training for delivering on concrete SAF projects.

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