Etihad Airways, World Energy agree to long-term SAF book-and-claim partnership
Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, and World Energy announced Nov. 17 the signing of a historical memorandum of understanding (MOU) to establish a long-term strategic partnership to decarbonize flights through in-sector emissions reductions.
Etihad is the first commercial airline to participate in World Energy’s recently launched service for airline and corporate climate leaders taking real action to achieve net-zero goals.
“We are making long-term commitments with leaders to decarbonize transport,” said Gene Gebolys, CEO of World Energy. “Our work with Etihad is strategic and rooted in purpose. It will drive innovation and accountability so we can scale sustainable fuels and make a real and impactful reduction toward effectively decarbonizing aviation.”
The announcement comes on the heels of the two companies powering the first net-zero flight using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) via a book-and-claim system. This is accomplished by displacing approximately 26,000 gallons of petroleum-based jet fuel through the use of net-zero equivalent gallons of World Energy’s SAF at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The result was the elimination of approximately 250 metric tons of carbon related to Etihad’s regular routing flight from Washington Dulles to Abu Dhabi during COP27.
“Our net-zero flight proved book and claim is the only feasible path to net-zero commercial aviation using current technology and is the transition framework required until the supply of sustainable aviation fuel reaches its maturity and availability,” said Mariam Alqubaisi, the head of sustainability and business excellence for Etihad Airways. “Net-zero commercial aviation is possible, but we have to be honest as an industry and say there are significant logistical challenges to using SAF at present. We are committed to using actual SAF on our flights from the U.S. and across the world when we can secure a sustainable and efficient supply at the airports we serve.”
The book-and-claim MOU between Etihad and World Energy establishes the pending agreement between the two companies, which is the first-of-its-kind, long-term contract to supply an airline with the environmental attributes associated with SAF produced in Los Angeles, California.
World Energy, working with logistics partners, will deliver the physical SAF to LAX, which will displace conventional fossil fuel required by aircraft flying out of the airport. Etihad will receive the emission reductions in the form of SAF certificates (SAFc) once World Energy blends the SAF and it achieves “drop-in” ASTM certification.
Etihad in turn will be able to include their customers on the certificates, which will allow those customers to mitigate the emissions related to business flights. Both the physical SAF delivery and the SAFc ownership transfer will be independently verified by an auditor.
“We are committed to making good our commitment to sustainable aviation, and our Greenliner and Sustainabile50 partnership programs continue to test and refine our roadmap to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and halving net emission levels by 2035,” Alqubaisi said.
The book-and-claim system is an efficient method to achieve carbon-emission reductions in aviation and make meaningful progress toward achieving climate goals.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials, the organization that established this system, is working with Etihad and World Energy to include this flight as part of the RSB “Book & Claim Manual” testing as an official pilot.
All actions will comply with the RSB draft guidance, which includes third-party verification. All parties view book and claim as a necessary solution to unlock corporate end customers who are willing to commit the resources, and grow SAF demand, beyond what airlines alone can support financially.
SAF is already recognized by Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) as a valid action to mitigate aviation emissions.
RSB’s book-and-claim system will help demonstrate to the voluntary greenhouse gas accounting bodies that the purchase of the SAF via book and claim can be done in a robust and credible way that significantly accelerates fossil displacement and sectoral decarbonization.