Context: The 41st International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Assembly adopted a long-term global aspirational goal (LTAG) for international aviation of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 in support of the UNFCCC Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius and reach net zero by 2050.
What is sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)?
- SAF is a liquid fuel currently used in commercial aviation which reduces CO2 emissions by up to 80%. It can be produced from a number of sources (feedstock) including waste oil and fats, green and municipal waste and non-food crops.
- It can also be produced synthetically via a process that captures carbon directly from the air. It is ‘sustainable’ because the raw feedstock does not compete with food crops or water supplies, or is responsible for forest degradation.
- Whereas fossil fuels add to the overall level of CO2 by emitting carbon that had been previously locked away, SAF recycles the CO2 which has been absorbed by the biomass used in the feedstock during the course of its life.
- Seven biofuel production pathways are certified to produce SAF, which perform at operationally equivalent levels to Jet A1 fuel. By design, these SAFs are drop-in solutions, which can be directly blended into existing fuel infrastructure at airports and are fully compatible with modern aircraft.
Need for SAF:
- International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) could contribute around 65% of the reduction in emissions needed by aviation to reach net-zero in 2050.
- This will require a massive increase in production in order to meet demand. The largest acceleration is expected in the 2030s as policy support becomes global, SAF becomes competitive with fossil kerosene, and credible offsets become scarcer.
What is India’s stand?
- India asserted that global mandates for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) with 2050 as the target year was ‘too early’ and each country must be allowed to develop its strategy according to its national plans.
- It also sought the support of UN Aviation watchdog ICAO to achieve carbon net-zero goals alongside other priorities in the aviation sector.
- Any global mandates for SAF with milestones to 2050 are too early as each State must be allowed time to develop its own strategy for reaching LTAG as per its national plans,” said Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Rajiv Bansal at ICAO Global Implementation Support Symposium 2023.