The White House unveiled a multi-pronged initiative that is designed to dramatically step up production of sustainable fuels, reduce aviation emissions by 20 percent by 2030, and progress toward a “fully zero-carbon” aviation sector by 2050.
In a virtual event on Thursday, the Biden Administration outlined numerous efforts and proposed actions involving multiple federal agencies and a cross-section of the industry to reach these goals. Key among them are a proposed tax credit for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production that generates at least a 50 percent reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions and the launch of a Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge to encourage the production of at least three billion gallons of SAF per year by 2030.
In addition, the White House is supporting the allocation of up to $4.3 billion in new and ongoing funding that supports SAF projects and fuel production, an increase in research and development activities focused on new technologies, efforts to improve air traffic and airport efficiency, and initiatives that would demonstrate U.S. leadership in this area.
In providing a high-level outline for the goals, the White House said it plans to release a comprehensive aviation climate action plan in the coming months.
“Today, aviation…represents 11 percent of U.S. transportation-related emissions. Without increased action, aviation’s share of emissions is likely to increase as more people and goods fly,” the White House said in announcing the effort. It added that to reach its goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, emerging technologies such as electric and hydrogen power can play a role in the future. “But for today’s long-distance travel, we need bold partnerships to spur the deployment of billions of gallons of sustainable aviation fuels quickly.”
The announcement drew strong support from business and general aviation leaders, who endorsed efforts to ramp up SAF production. “The business aviation community has long been focused on flying safely, securely, and sustainably,” NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen told White House officials during the virtual event on Thursday. “Increasing SAF production is a key part of our sustainability agenda, and we will continue to promote proposals to increase the availability of these fuels as quickly as possible.”
National Air Transportation Association (NATA) president and CEO Tim Obitts, agreed, noting that business aviation has long advocated SAF adoption as a key component in reducing greenhouse emissions. “The coordination between the administration, agencies, and industry is critical to more expeditiously achieve our shared mission for a cleaner future,” he said.
Industry stakeholders have been working with the U.S. Congress on similar legislative approaches, said Pete Bunce, president and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, who commended the announcement from the White House. “We also are eager to work with other policymakers and regulators to further advance SAF production and use worldwide,” he added.