Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF)

Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) 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 A39-2 (2016), the ICAO Assembly acknowledged the need for SAF to be developed and deployed in an economically feasible, socially and environmentally acceptable manner and requested States to recognize existing approaches to assess the sustainability of all alternative fuels in general, including those for use in aviation which should: achieve net GHG emissions reduction on a life cycle basis; respect the areas of high importance for biodiversity, conservation and benefits for people from ecosystems, in accordance with international and national regulations; and contribute to local social and economic development, and competition with food and water should be avoided.

 

The Assembly also requested States to adopt measures to ensure the sustainability of alternative fuels for aviation, building on existing approaches or combination of approaches, and monitor, at a national level, the sustainability of the production of alternative fuels for aviation.

 

These Assembly requests related to SAF are being pursued by ICAO in various fronts:


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 over 600 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.


 

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.PNGICAO STOCKTAKING PROCESS - In 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.
 

CAEP Work

CAEP, through its Fuels Task Group (FTG), has been working on the development of processes and methodologies for consideration of SAF under CORSIA, including 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)

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.
 

Sharing of information and best practices


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.


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