Recognizing that climate change is one of the most urgent challenges of our time, a newly-released report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) says a transition to carbon-neutral flying is possible, with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as the most promising decarbonization option in the near-term. Published yesterday, Clean Skies for Tomorrow: Sustainable Aviation Fuels as a Pathway to Net-Zero Aviation states “the decade until 2030 is our window of opportunity to shift the global trajectory to a sustainable future. Indeed, the actions taken now will determine the ability of future generations to sustain themselves on this planet.”
According to the report, while enough feedstock supplies such as municipal waste, agricultural residues, and cooking oil waste, currently exist to reach production of 500 million tonnes annually—enough to fuel all aviation by 2030—planned production capacity investments will only yield four million tonnes a year by 2030, representing 1 percent of the projected global jet fuel demand in 2030.
Despite the cost differential that currently exists between SAF and conventional jet fuel, the WEF believes that price delta will narrow as further technology innovations and efficiencies of scale in production are achieved. The main challenges, it noted, will be in developing appropriate financing, incentives, and regulatory mechanisms to spur investment and increase production.
Above all, the report urged that action must be taken now, reaffirming to those stakeholders who plan to conduct business as usual and wait for a technological miracle that climate change is already underway. “Hope is not a strategy,” it concluded.