Environmental Defense Fund Issues New SAF Handbook

 - August 22, 2022, 12:45 PM
The Environmental Defense Fund's new handbook on sustainable aviation fuel highlights the need to support "high-integrity" sustainable fuels, those that do not compete for land use with edible crops and animal feed, have the highest emissions reductions, and which have those environmental benefits accurately attributed. (Photo: Curt Epstein/AIN)

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has published a handbook offering solutions to aviation’s most pressing challenges in transitioning from fossil-based fuels to cleaner fuels.

While the aviation sector currently accounts for more than 3 percent of human-related climate change impacts, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) produced from a variety of feedstocks will be crucial to aviation’s goal of decarbonization by 2050. But SAF must be high-integrity, according to EDF, meaning it credibly reduces emissions, adheres to strong environmental and social safeguards, and has an accurate accounting system in place to prevent duplicate crediting of emissions reductions.

The High-Integrity SAF Handbook examines the tenets of responsible SAF production including avoiding indirect land use changes. “We won’t solve our climate problems by producing SAF in ways that cause deforestation or divert land that is needed to grow food and feed,” explained study author Pedro Piris-Cabezas, EDF’s director of sustainable international transport and lead senior economist. “If we aren’t careful, we can do more harm than good.”

The document also includes guidance for policymakers to further grow the industry, including ensuring financial support for SAF feedstocks with low land-use competition and those offering the highest emissions reductions.

“If we take the right steps to advance the use of high-integrity SAF, it has incredible potential to change the nature of flight for the better,” said Piris-Cabezas.