Sustainable aviation fuels, known in the industry as SAFs, have been highlighted as a critical piece in reducing emissions as sustainability becomes a larger priority among cargo shippers. SAFs’ ability to power large airplanes is something electric power can’t currently offer, and UPS called it “the only decarbonization path for the aviation sector” in its Global Reporting Initiative report.
But SAFs have barely made a dent in the global jet fuel supply. Fewer than 200,000 metric tons were produced in 2019, which amounts to less than 0.1% of the fuel commercial airlines used that year, according to a report by the WEF and McKinsey.
High costs and limited supply have limited widespread adoption of SAFs, leading to a “chicken and egg” problem where producers and carriers are wary of shouldering the initial investment burden to make SAF competitive, the WEF news release said.