Scaling sustainable aviation fuel today for clean skies tomorrow

Scaling sustainable aviation fuel today for clean skies tomorrow

An insight report with McKinsey & Company and the World Economic Forum

A transition to carbon-neutral flying is possible and sustainable aviation fuels are the most promising decarbonization pathway in the near term.

Climate change is one of the most urgent challenges of our time and requires collective action to solve, embodied in a shared vision and collaboration across government, industry and society. 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.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Paris Agreement, signed in 2016, was a watershed moment by demonstrating a global consensus on the threats of climate change and commitment to act. In charting strategies to meet the goals of the agreement – namely limiting climatic warming to 2 degrees Celsius and aiming for 1.5 degrees – governments have outlined their own plans to contribute to the shared goal, some more ambitiously than others. Corporations are also announcing their own ambitious goals and strategies to reduce their environmental footprint and overall GHG emissions, although additional commitments and greater speed of action are needed to succeed.

Aviation is one of six hard-to-abate sectors which, along with cement, steel, plastics, trucking and shipping, represent approximately 30% of global annual carbon emissions. According to the European Commission, by the middle of the 21st century demand for flying could increase aviation’s GHG emissions by more than 300% over 2005 levels, although this increase has been temporarily slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Economic Forum’s Clean Skies for Tomorrow (CST) Coalition seeks to decarbonize the aviation sector. Transportation, which contributes nearly a quarter of total energy-related CO2 emissions, is falling behind on meeting EU climate targets. This report, created with the contributions of coalition members, describes feedstock availability and sustainability, production capacity and technology maturity, and quantifies expected costs
of the most promising SAF production pathways. It thus provides a fact base for stakeholders, including industry decision-makers, as they build a more
sustainable future.

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