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Decarbonizing the Air Transportation Sector: New Guidelines for Sustainable Aviation Fuel Greenhouse Gas Emission Announced

Amsterdam, 17 May 2021 - Smart Freight Centre and MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics announce new greenhouse gas accounting and insetting guidelines for sustainable aviation fuel

The air transportation industry is responsible for a significant amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions each year. Immediately before the COVID-19 crisis, the industry emitted approximately 3% of annual global GHG emissions - with that footprint projected to grow. It is therefore critical to reduce aviation GHG emissions as a part of efforts to meet global climate goals.

Use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), fuels with lower life cycle GHG emissions intensities than conventional aviation fuels, is one of the principal options currently available for reducing air transportation GHG emissions.

However, the cost of SAF - which can be several times the cost of conventional aviation fuels - has contributed to SAF’s limited use to date. Insetting, or the purchase of GHG emission reductions within an organization’s supply chain, is a tool to spread the cost premium of SAF across the aviation value chain and increase the uptake of SAF.

Smart Freight Centre (SFC)
and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL), commissioned by Shell Aviation, have developed guidelines for insetting in aviation transportation value chains to facilitate the use of more SAF and help decarbonize the sector.

The guidelines, to be released by early summer of 2021, outline an approach to insetting that is flexible enough to drive the long-term value chain collaboration needed to bring SAF use to scale. At the same time, the guidelines include controls to provide entities along the SAF value chain confidence that emission reduction benefits from SAF are of legitimate origin, of a reasonable vintage, and are properly accounted for according to broadly accepted emission accounting methods.

More specifically, the guidelines provide air carriers, logistics service providers, freight shippers, business travellers, travel management companies, and fuel suppliers the details of an accounting and reporting system for SAF insets. There are two key elements to the guidelines:

1. Directions for SAF emissions accounting, based on the Global Logistics Emission Council (GLEC) Framework and aligned with the GHG Protocol.


2. Principles of a book and claim chain of custody system for the clear and transparent tracking and disclosure of the emission reduction benefits of SAF.


Please look out for the new SAF accounting and insetting guidelines in the coming weeks. You can also visit the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics (MIT CTL) website to stay informed, and for more information on Smart Freight Centre and MIT’s work to facilitate collaboration across air transportation value chains, drive the investment necessary to bring SAF production to scale, and decarbonize the aviation sector.

Photo credit: Uncut


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