Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)

Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) are defined as renewable or waste-derived aviation fuels that meets sustainability criteria1. Technical analysis done at ICAO shows that SAF has the greatest potential to reduce CO2 emissions from International Aviation.


ICAO is working to facilitate SAF development and deployment through four main streams:

1) Globally-accepted environmental Standards for SAF

CORSIA includes specific methodologies that allow aircraft operators to reduce its offsetting requirements through the use of SAF and Lower Carbon Aviation Fuels (LCAF), including globally-accepted sustainability criteria and life cycle methodologies. These are being developed by CAEP, through its Fuels Task Group (FTG).

Specific details on how SAF is considered under CORSIA are provided in the ICAO Environmental Report 2019, Chapter 6 - An Overview of CORSIA Eligible Fuels (CEF). Related documents are provided in the CORSIA eligible fuels website.

Sustainability criteria 
Life cycle methodologies

2) SAF goals, policies, and measures

​Long-term global aspirational goal (LTAG)

The 41st ICAO Assembly adopted a long-term global aspirational goal (LTAG) for international aviation of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 in support of the UNFCCC Paris Agreement's temperature goal. This is a historic agreement that reinforces the leadership of ICAO on issues relating to international aviation and climate change. The adopted Resolution A41-21 is avaialble here

The LTAG report shows that SAF has the greatest potential to reduce CO2 emissions from International Aviation.

Figure 1 IS3.svg

SAF Trends - The possible contribution of SAF to the ICAO environmental goals is also being assessed by CAEP as part of the ICAO Global Environmental Trends.

2050 ICAO VISION - the Second ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/2) was held in October 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico. It endorsed the 2050 ICAO Vision for Sustainable Aviation Fuels, which calls on States, industry and other stakeholders for a significant proportion of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) use by 2050. The 2050 ICAO Vision will be updated at the CAAF/3, to be held in 2023. 

3) Capacity Building and Assistance to ICAO Member States

ACT-SAF - ICAO Assistance, Capacity-building and Training for Sustainable Aviation Fuels

The ICAO ACT-SAF Programme was launched on 1st June 2022. It will provide opportunities for States to develop their full potential in SAF development and deployment, in line with the ICAO’s No Country Left Behind initiative, the 2050 ICAO Vision for SAF, and the three main pillars of sustainable development recognized by the United Nations. 

SAF Feasibility Studies - Four successful feasibility studies on the use of SAF were developed as part of the ICAO-EU assistance project "Capacity building for CO2 mitigation from international aviation". These can be accessed as follows:
4) Outreach of information and best practices

SAF rules of thumb - what does it take to produce SAF?

"Rules of Thumb" developed by CAEP experts can be utilized to make order of magnitude estimations related to SAF costs, investment needs and production potential. 

This guidance summarizes potential policies and coordinated approaches for the deployment of SAF, completing a toolbox of guidance material for use by ICAO Member States together with the ICAO SAF Rules of Thumb.
ICAO is periodically reviewing the progress on SAF development and deployment through a Stocktaking Process, including the organization of regular seminars.

As part of the ICAO-UNDP-GEF assistance project "Transforming the Global Aviation Sector: Emissions Reductions from International Aviation", a "Sustainable Aviation Fuels Guide" was developed to inform ICAO Member States on how sustainable aviation fuels can be deployed to reduce CO2 emissions from international aviation activities. The guide describes fuel production pathways, usage constraints, environmental and other benefits, and policy perspectives on the use and development of SAF.

                                          ​ICAO GFAAF 
The ICAO Global Framework for Aviation and Alternative Fuels (GFAAF) is the online database for sharing information related to sustainable aviation fuels. It contains links to hundreds news articles dating back to 2005, details of past and ongoing initiatives, facts and figures, answers to frequently asked questions, and links to additional resources. It also includes a live feed of flights using sustainable aviation fuels.

SAF technical references​

Several other references on SAF are being compiled by ICAO and provided to the general public. More information can be found in the "other resouces" webpage.

1 - Annex 16 - Environmental Protection, Volume IV, Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

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