Sustainable aviation fuels form key part of IATA’s Green New Deal approach

posted on 11th December 2019 by William Hayes

The European Union launches its ‘Green New Deal’ today, a set of policies aimed at tackling the growing climate crisis – and aviation wants to be a part of it.

That is at least what the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has indicated at the UN Climate Change Conference, COP25, in Madrid, where it asked the bloc to support the industry’s transition to sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

“Aviation has high hopes for the European Commission’s Green Deal,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO,  speaking at the Sustainable Innovation Forum at the conference.

“We want to be part of Europe’s building of a new energy economy and we will do everything we can to make sustainable aviation fuels a priority for aviation in Europe and around the world.”

De Juniac also spoke out against ecotaxes as a “politician’s way out” that merely “make it look like action is being taken,” claiming that measures that can actually reduce emissions in the long-term require “more time and effort to put in place” – with SAF seemingly the top priority.

IATA has stated its belief that achieving 2% of global jet fuel from non-fossil sources by 2025 could create a tipping point for production and cost of SAF. The 14 production facilities currently operating, under construction or in the final stages of financing and planning take the industry some way towards the 2% goal, although more progress is needed.

The role of governments in energy transition has been mapped in the successful development of solar and wind solutions for power generation, suggesting a possible future route to sustainable liquid fuels in aviation.

“Electrification of road vehicles is tried, tested, scalable and on the market today. Aviation should be a policy priority because it does not have a near-term electrification option,” said de Juniac.

“The major oil companies have the expertise, the distribution networks and – importantly – the financial power to make a real difference. I call on them to make this an absolute priority, helping to underpin global connectivity for future generations by making sustainable aviation fuels a commercial reality,” added the IATA boss.

SAF are certainly one critical component of aviation’s long-term efforts to cut its emissions to half 2005 levels by 2050.

But the industry’s strategy to achieve this must also include significant investment in new technology aircraft, research into electric and hybrid propulsion, programs to improve operational efficiency, and the world’s first global sectoral climate mechanism, CORSIA.