DUBAI, 24 November 2023 – The aviation sector has adopted a collective goal to start the shift away from fossil fuels at the third Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3), convened by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations specialised agency. Governments from over 100 States, meeting with industry and civil society, have set a goal that aviation fuel in 2030 should be 5% less carbon intensive than the fossil fuel which makes up nearly all of today’s aviation energy. This will be achieved through a transition to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and, as an interim tool, the use of lower carbon aviation fuels (LCAF).
Executive Director of the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group, Haldane Dodd said: “This is another milestone moment for our sector, coming on the back of last years’ agreement to meet net-zero carbon by 2050. The agreements reached at CAAF/3 will help fill in the details of that net-zero pathway. A shift towards a replacement of fossil fuels by SAF will require significant investment. The agreement today helps to provide another layer of certainty to unlock the trillions in capital needed. Aviation has provided a near-term objective and the global framework. Now it is up to the finance community and energy sector to support the necessary infrastructure and start delivering SAF in ever increasing quantities.”
The ICAO CAAF/3 conference had two key outcomes.
Dodd said: “These are challenging discussions, requiring a new way of thinking about energy and international cooperation. A global average goal allows some parts of the world to move fast and develop their existing base of SAF deployment whilst leaving room for other States to build up the capabilities needed for SAF production and use. This agreement sends a signal to the world that aviation is shifting away from fossil fuels and the traditional energy sector needs to commit meaningful flows of their vast profits and capital expenditures towards the energy transition, now. We need supportive government policies and supportive investment from the finance sector.”
There has already been some significant movements towards SAF in the sector, with the CAAF/3 announcement helping to catalyse future development on the action already taking place:
Lower Carbon Aviation Fuels are fossil fuels which are produced with improved production techniques to reduce their lifecycle CO2 emissions compared to traditionally-produced fossil fuels. These can be around 10% less carbon intensive and could provide a good interim measure until SAF can be scaled-up.