Is Sustainable Aviation Fuel the Key to Airlines Reducing Carbon Emissions?

Air Pollution Aviation Industry Big Oil Carbon Offsets Climate Change

Last month we wrote about the environmental impact of the cruise industry and emphasized that because cruising is not going away any time soon it is imperative consumers, industry leaders, and government oversight unite to find ways for the industry to be more sustainable.  This month we are diving into the aviation industry.

Air travel is an environmental cost. According to Statista in the 2019 pre-pandemic, over 900 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) were released into the air due to flying. 

According to Statista, they are concerned about the environmental impact of flying, but it remains to be seen if people are prepared to pay more for cleaner flights.

 Statista Attitude Towards Environmental Impact of Flying 2022

That's where sustainable aviation fuel comes in.

What is SAF?

Sustainable Aviation fuels are biofuels made from corn, algae, used cooking oil, municipal trash, sewage, and other waste. It can also be synthetic fuels like liquid hydrogen created using renewable electricity.  To qualify it has to emit at least 50% less carbon than petroleum-based fuel used by most airlines.

Sounds great so why isn't every airline using SAFs?

You guessed it. It costs almost twice as much as petroleum-based fuel. Since the airlines are not motivated to buy it, there is no incentive to invest money into scaling the process, which is the only way to bring the cost down.

Are SAF Certificates the Answer?

The business traveler is a huge contributor to global carbon emissions and the bread and butter of the airline industry.  As corporations look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint the SAF Certificate was born, enabling corporations and business travelers to buy carbon-neutral flights which in turn gives the airlines money to buy SAF fuel. The reduced carbon emissions are measured for accountability and transparency.

In 2021 United Airlines announced SAF certificates subsidized 3.4 million gallons of SAF. JetBlue subsidized 325,000 gallons of SAF. Sounds like a lot, but in reality, it is only 0.1% of United's fuel consumption and 0.05% for JetBlue.

easyJet is leading the industry by setting targets to cut carbon emissions not just off-setting them with a net zero goal by 2050

Would you pay more for a flight using SAF fuel or supporting a smaller airline that is striving for zero emissions? Go to our social media pages Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and share your story.

Thanks for reading,

Savvy

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