World Travel & Tourism Council calls for urgent action on SAF
The World Travel & Tourism Council May 19 called on governments around the world to “get serious” on incentivizing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production and set ambitious targets to produce adequate quantities.
Without meaningful quantities of SAF, the global tourism body says the aviation sector cannot decarbonize on a scale that will allow it to reach net zero by 2050, as committed to by the industry and supported by International Civil Aviation Organization member states. The aviation industry expects to reach net-zero carbon emissions by:
Delivering the maximum reduction in emissions at source, through the use of SAF and innovative new propulsion technologies like hydrogen and electric
Deploying modern fuel-efficient aircraft fleets
Operational efficiency improvements (in air navigation, for example)
Out-of-sector solutions like offsetting or carbon capture
SAF is expected to deliver the majority of greenhouse-gas abatements needed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
Unfortunately, SAF production rates are insufficient to meet demand and prices remain high, despite the recent exponential increase in production. “The time for action is now,” WTTC stated. “Without SAF, governments will struggle to meet their climate goals as set by the Paris Climate Agreement and their commitments to economic growth, which is heavily reliant on aviation for tourism, trade and connectivity.” To address this urgent issue, WTTC calls on governments to:
Provide strong incentives to encourage investment in SAF production, including tax credits, grants or other financial incentives
Work with the sector to set ambitious SAF-production targets
Coordinate their actions through ICAO, the specialized United Nations agency for aviation, to ensure global uniformity in SAF regulations, sustainability standards, procedures and organization
An example of a successful incentive program is in the United States, WTTC stated. The recent Inflation Reduction Act, which, through the blenders tax credit, created tax incentives for SAF production that are already bearing fruit.
“It is time for governments to take bold action and prioritize the production of sustainable aviation fuel,” said Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO. “We are calling on all governments to act now. The demand for SAF has never been higher, airlines all over the world want to use SAF and have used every molecule ever made. However, current SAF production only meets 0.1 percent to 0.15 percent of requirement, despite a 200 percent increase in production in 2022 versus 2021. This leaves a massive gap that can only be filled through rapid and sustained investment. At today’s prices, SAF is on average three to five times more expensive than traditional fossil fuels. Governments must address this cost disparity by providing financial support and incentives to make SAF more accessible and affordable. Without those targets and without those incentives, the sector cannot decarbonize. The G7 leaders have an opportunity this week to deliver critical leadership on this issue by following up on the commitment of their climate, energy and environment ministers to accelerate efforts to decarbonize the aviation industry, including through the promotion of SAF. Turning the words of a communique into concrete policies to scale up SAF production would give aviation’s decarbonization a critical boost.”
The International Air Transport Association recently launched a new policy aimed at accelerating SAF production: SAF Deployment.
The policy calls for governments to take a leading role in facilitating the scale-up of SAF production.
It also underscores the need for policies that are harmonized across countries and industries to provide a level playing field for the global civil aviation industry, while being technology and feedstock agnostic.
The IATA paper draws attention to the need for policies to address both near-term and longer-term SAF deployment and provide the necessary certainty for producers and investors to allocate existing biofuel refinery capacity to SAF as well as to develop new infrastructure.
In partnership with ICF, WTTC launched a white paper demystifying the impact and benefits of SAF for tourism destinations around the world.
The white paper, “Sustainable Aviation Fuels: The Implications & Opportunities for Tourism Destinations,” sets out three critical actions destinations are advised to undertake to address the challenge and embrace the opportunities of SAF.