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 methodologies that allow aircraft operators to reduce its offsetting requirements through the use of SAF and Lower Carbon Aviation Fuels (LCAF). These include globally-accepted sustainability criteria and life cycle methodologies

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.

information on fuel batches and economic operators that are certified under CORSIA is provided on the CORSIA certified fuels website.



Sustainability criteria 

Life cycle methodologies

2) SAF policies and goals

The Third ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3) adopted a new ICAO Global Framework for Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), Lower Carbon Aviation Fuels (LCAF) and other Aviation Cleaner Energies, by which ICAO and its Member States have agreed to strive to achieve a collective global aspirational Vision to reduce CO2 emissions in international aviation by 5 per cent by 2030, compared to zero cleaner energy use. 

Key elements of the Framework include a collective Vision for the clean energy transition, harmonized regulatory foundations, supporting implementation initiatives, and improved access to financing for related initiatives so that “No Country is Left Behind.” 

​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 historic agreement reinforces the leadership of ICAO on issues relating to international aviation and climate change. The adopted Resolution A41-21 is available here

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

The LTAG and fuels website details the fuels-related information contained in the LTAG analysis. 
Figure 1 IS3.svg

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.

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

The "SAF Rules of Thumb" can be utilized to support policy development. They provide order of magnitude estimations related to SAF costs, investment needs and production potential. These "SAF rules of thumb" complete a toolbox of guidance material for use by ICAO Member States together with the "Guidance on potential policies and coordinated approaches for the deployment of SAF"

SAF Trends and Short-term Projections - The possible contribution of SAF to the ICAO environmental goals is also being assessed by CAEP as part of the ICAO Global Environmental Trends and SAF short-term projections.

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 is supporting States to develop their full potential in SAF, through specific training activities, development of feasibility studies, and other implementation support initiatives.

The ICAO ACT-SAF Series of events is providing comprehensive training to ACT-SAF Partners on an array of important SAF-related topics, ranging from sustainability, to policy, economics/financing certification and logistics. All the presentations are available for download; the trainings can be visualized on ICAO.TV and YouTube.

SAF Feasibility Studies - Seven SAF feasibility studies were developed as part of the ICAO-EU assistance project "Capacity building for CO2 mitigation from international aviation", and many more are currently under development under the ICAO ACT-SAF programmeThe concluded feasibility studies can be accessed as follows:
4) Outreach of information and best practices
ICAO is periodically reviewing the progress on SAF development and deployment through a Stocktaking Process, including the organization of regular seminars. Information gathered on the Stocktaking is included in the "SAF tracking tools" being maintained as part of the ICAO Global Framework for Aviation and Alternative Fuels (GFAAF .

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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