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IATA Sets Goal for Flights Using Sustainable Fuels

Submitted by on March 7, 2018 – 4:28 pmNo Comment

(International Air Transport Association/Biomass Magazine)  The International Air Transport Association set out an aim for 1 billion passengers to fly on flights powered by a mix of jet fuel and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2025. This aspiration was identified on the tenth anniversary of the first flight to blend sustainable aviation fuel and ordinary jet fuel.

On 24 February 2008, a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 flew from London to Amsterdam with sustainable aviation fuel in one of its engines. The flight demonstrated the viability of drop-in biofuels, which can be blended with traditional jet fuel, using existing airport infrastructure. A flight completely powered by sustainable fuel has the potential to reduce the carbon emissions of that flight by up to 80 percent.

“The momentum for sustainable aviation fuels is now unstoppable. From one flight in 2008, we passed the threshold of 100,000 flights in 2017, and we expect to hit one million flights during 2020. But that is still just a drop in the ocean compared to what we want to achieve. We want 1 billion passengers to have flown on a SAF-blend flight by 2025. That won’t be easy to achieve. We need governments to set a framework to incentivize production of SAF and ensure it is as attractive to produce as automotive biofuels,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.

The push to increase uptake of SAF is being driven by the airline industry’s commitment to achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and to cut net carbon emissions by 50 percent compared to 2005. A number of airlines, including Cathay Pacific, FedEx Express, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Qantas, and United, have made significant investments by forward-purchasing 1.5 billion gallons of SAF. Airports in Oslo, Stockholm, Brisbane and Los Angeles are already mixing SAF with the general fuel supply.

On the present uptake trajectory it is anticipated that half a billion passengers will have flown on a SAF-blend powered flight by 2025. But if governments, through effective policy, help the sustainable fuel industry to scale-up its production, it is possible that 1 billion passengers could experience an SAF flight by 2025. The steps needed to deliver this include:

– Allowing SAF to compete with automotive biofuels through equivalent or magnified incentives

– Loan guarantees and capital grants for production facilities

– Supporting SAF demonstration plants and supply chain research and development

– Harmonized transport and energy policies, coordinated with the involvement of agriculture and military departments. READ MORE

Industry urges adoption of CORSIA technical rules without delay as ICAO consultation with States closes (GreenAir Online)

Projected sustainable aviation fuel uptake by 2025 could be doubled with government support, says IATA (GreenAir Online)

Virgin Atlantic removes Cambodian forest project from carbon offset portfolio as NGO and standards body clash over REDD+ (GreenAir Online)

Aim for 1 Billion Passengers to Fly on Sustainable Fuel Flights by 2025 (IATA)



Excerpts from GreenAir Online CORSIA article:  A series of five three-day CORSIA regional seminars starts this month and will run until mid-April. They will be based on the draft SARPs presented to States during the consultation and will share information on CORSIA implementation requirements. Following the expected adoption of the SARPs by the Council in June, a further seminar is planned at ICAO in Montreal in early July.

The CORSIA Implementation Elements that States were consulted on are under development by the Council and its Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP). The five elements comprise:

  1. CORSIA States for Chapter 3 States Pairs – this provides information on those States participating in the scheme that define the State pairs with offsetting requirements for the current year and is critical information for operators to determine the applicability scope of the offsetting requirements.
  2. ICAO CORSIA CO2 Estimation and Reporting Tool (CERT), which can support operators in assessing their eligibility to use fuel burn monitoring methods in support of their Emissions Monitoring Plan; assessing whether or not an operator is within the MRV applicability scope; and filling in CO2 emissions data gaps.
  3. CORSIA Sustainable Aviation Fuels covers information on Sustainability Certification Schemes (SCS), sustainability criteria, default life-cycle emissions values and the methodology for calculating actual life-cycle emissions values.
  4. CORSIA Eligible Emissions Units provides information on which units an operator shall use to meet their CO2 offsetting requirements, including a list of approved units and the programme design elements and criteria.
  5. CORSIA Central Registry (CCR), which will hold information and data on operator-to-State attribution, 2020 emissions and the annual sector’s growth factor.

Sustainability criteria for sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) remains under discussion – some say dissension – within the Council, although two basic principles are noted in the draft, namely that SAF should generate lower carbon emissions than conventional kerosene on a life-cycle basis and SAF should not be made from biomass obtained from land with high carbon stock.

CAEP is understood to be making progress on other technical specifications, such as the development of default life-cycle emissions values and methodologies, and requirements for Sustainability Certification Schemes.

CAEP recommendations on these are expected to be considered by the Council at its session in November, as is progress on the informal testing by CAEP of some carbon offset programmes against eight integrity assessment criteria principles for eligible offsets:

  1. Are additional.
  2. Are based on a realistic and credible baseline.
  3. Are quantified, monitored, reported and verified.
  4. Have a clear and transparent chain of custody.
  5. Represent permanent emissions reductions.
  6. Assess and mitigate against potential increase in emissions elsewhere.
  7. Are only counted once towards a mitigation obligation.
  8. Do no net harm.

To raise understanding of how carbon markets work and to better prepare States for the discussions on emissions units to be used for CORSIA, ICAO held a seminar last month in Montreal that was attended by over 200 delegates from States, airlines and the carbon markets. Presentations were made by representatives from the compliance and voluntary markets, UN mechanisms and verifiers.   READ MORE


Excerpts from GreenAir Online IATA article:  Added Dr Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech: “The aviation sector’s commitment to achieving a low-carbon future is evidenced by its investment in the development of sustainable jet fuel supply chains. Remarkably, due to this commitment, we have gone from ‘it can’t be done’ to over 100,000 commercial flights on low-carbon jet fuel in under 10 years. This is tremendous progress and we are thrilled to partner with Virgin Atlantic, the airline that first showed synthetic, low-carbon jet fuel flight was possible.”

The Chicago-based biotech company estimates its process could be retrofitted to 65% of the world’s steel mills, with a potential for producing around 15 billion gallons of renewable jet fuel annually, representing just under 19% of the total worldwide consumption of all aviation fuel.  READ MORE


Excerpt from GreenAir Online Virgin Atlantic article:  Following a report by forestry NGO Fern, Virgin Atlantic Airways has removed from its carbon offset portfolio a controversial REDD+ project in Cambodia. The report, which warns the aviation industry not to purchase REDD+ forestry credits under the ICAO CORSIA international carbon offsetting scheme, included a case study of the Oddar Meanchey project. Fern claims forest carbon offsets fail to meet the majority of the eight principles set by ICAO and should be excluded from the CORSIA mechanism. The NGO also says standards set by bodies such as Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), which certified the Cambodian project, should not be trusted. VCS has reacted strongly, publishing a rebuttal and calling the report inaccurate and misleading. It says REDD+ has matured over the past decade and forest carbon credits are now well-positioned to meet all ICAO’s offset quality criteria.

By putting a value on forest protection, REDD+ has also created a voluntary market in which generated credits are sold to fossil fuel-dependent industries to offset their carbon emissions. However, REDD+ has proved controversial from the outset, with the result that REDD+ credits are not permitted under the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) or the UN’s own Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). As a consequence, the market for forest credits has been limited but there is now interest from the airline industry to purchase the credits under CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation).

Fern claims that forest carbon offsets are “highly unlikely” to meet at least six of these eight criteria, with criteria three and four open to question in particular cases. Therefore, it argues, if airlines were able to use offsets where actual emissions did not result, ICAO’s post-2020 carbon neutral growth ambition would be at risk of not being met. READ MORE

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