Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF)

Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) are renewable or waste-derived aviation fuels that meets sustainability criteria (reference: Annex 16 Volume IV). They are one element of the ICAO basket of measures to reduce aviation emissions, which also includes technology and standards, operational improvements, and the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). 


In its Resolution A40-18 (2019), the ICAO Assembly made several acknowlegements and requests related to SAF, including aspects related to sustainability and life cycle emissions. These Assembly requests are being pursued by ICAO in various fronts:

CORSIA and Sustainable Aviation Fuels

Annex 16 Volume IV defines a CORSIA Sustainable Aviation Fuel as a renewable  or  waste-derived  aviation  fuel  that  meets  the  CORSIA  Sustainability Criteria under this Volume. 

CORSIA includes specific methodologies that allow aircraft operators to reduce its offsetting requirements through the use of SAF, 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.

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. 

Long term global aspirational goal for international aviation   (LTAG)

Work is ongoing to explore the feasibility of a Long term global aspirational goal for international aviation   (LTAG), through conducting detailed studies assessing the attainability and impacts of any goals proposed, including the impact on growth as well as costs in all countries, especially developing countries.

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. This second Conference 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.

Stocktaking.PNG​ICAO STOCKTAKING PROCESSIn response to a decision from CAAF/2, ICAO is periodically reviewing the progress on SAF development and deployment through a stocktaking process, including the organization of regular workshops and seminars. The first ICAO Stocktaking Seminar toward the 2050 Vision for Sustainable Aviation Fuels  (SAFS2019) was held in Montreal from 30 April to 1 May 2019. Information gathered at this Seminar shows that commercial production of SAF increased from an average of 0.29 million litres per year (2013-2015) to 6.45 million litres per year (2016-2018). Additionally, up to 6.5 Mt (8 billion litres) per year of SAF production capacity may be available by 2032.

There is significant uncertainty on the share of this capacity that will be directed to SAF compared to other fuels and in this regard, the CAAF/2 encouraged States to promote policies that strive to establish a level playing field between aviation and other transportation sectors on the use of sustainable fuels.

Sharing of information and best practices

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 Guide - 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.

    • Buddy Partnerships - ICAO invited States and Organizations to indicate their interest in supporting or benefiting from potential future feasibility studies on sustainable aviation fuels. More information can be found in the "Buddy Partnerships" webpage.
    • 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.

Sustainable Aviation Fuels can play a major role in reducing international aviation emissions. ICAO work to foster the deployment of SAF will continue, in support of the ICAO goal of limiting or reducing the impact of aviation greenhouse gas emissions on the global climate.

Share this page: