Last Updated: May 21, 2021, 0632 hrs 

Cabinet ministers from five countries launched the Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Ambassadors group, together with the World Economic Forum on . Chaired by the United Kingdom in its role as the UNFCCC COP26 President, the five governments of Kenya, the Netherlands, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and the UK have committed to collectively develop an innovative ‘policy toolkit’ to support scaling SAF deployment.

The COVID storm has resulted in a drastic drop in air travel and aviation emissions, air travel is expected to soon return to pre-pandemic levels and beyond. But very soon, airplanes will return to the skies and continue to facilitate the personal and economic benefits provided by the aviation industry. And the industry and governments recognize the necessity for long-term planning to avoid the affects of climate change.

At pre-pandemic levels, aviation was responsible for 2-3% of overall global emissions with an even greater climatic impact because emissions included non-CO2 factors like nitrogen oxide and contrails. 

Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), derived from renewable sources ranging from household waste to industrial CO2 emissions, are the technology for the sector to reach its sustainability goals.

SAF technologies that are currently deployed can deliver emissions savings of up to 80% vs conventional fossil jet fuel – with other SAF technologies in development reaching 100% lifecycle emissions reductions.

In recognition of this responsibility, cabinet Ministers from Kenya, the Netherlands, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom on Wednesday launched the Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Ambassadors group, working with and advising the World Economic Forum’s broader Clean Skies for Tomorrow (CST) initiative. As a CST advisory partner, ICAO’s Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu also joined the launch to provide guidance and support.

The SAF Ambassadors group will partner with existing coalition members to develop and deploy policy solutions and drive both state and region-level ambition.

The aviation industry itself has made significant investments in energy efficiencies and in next-gen fuels like SAF, but the deployment challenges of the same are complex, systemic and expensive; supporting regulatory frameworks and public financing mechanisms are required to move the needle.

The UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), as ‘the global forum of States for international civil aviation,” adopted the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) scheme in 2016, marking an inflection point in international aviation. CORSIA is not perfect, but ICAO’s work sets the overarching policy framework for the aviation industry. By setting an ambition of carbon neutral growth for aviation, the agreement was an important and necessary step.

Sustainable Aviation Fuels holds enormous potential – offering significant emissions savings and supporting the creation of thousands of new jobs worldwide. With COP26 around the corner it’s important that these opportunities are seized and in SAF Ambassadors will be leading the charge to promote the take up of these vital fuels worldwide.

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