January 28, 2022Resources
To reduce the carbon footprint of flying in the short-term, we urgently need to invest in Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). Now, individuals and companies that fly can help accelerate the transition. What is SAF and how can you support it?
Flygskam—'flight guilt' as we say in Norwegian: we’ve all felt it. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few decades, there’s no getting around the crushing guilt that comes with flying. Global aviation is an extremely dirty industry, accounting for around 2% of all man-made global carbon emissions each year—put differently, if it were a country, it would rank sixth in the world for its overall CO₂ emissions.
All this dirtiness is overwhelmingly tied to one factor: practically all commercial aeroplanes are powered by burning fossil fuels. The good news? Clean sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) already exists. It’s being used by more than 45 international airports to reduce the carbon emissions of flying. The brilliant news? You, your company, and your customers can directly support its expansion as consumers—and conquer flight shame in the process.
Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is a clean substitute for conventional fossil fuel-based jet fuel. It’s made from sustainably-sourced resources, like agricultural waste. Currently, most SAF in the world is produced from waste oils, fats, and greases.
These resources are processed to create a chemical that is almost identical to the kerosene found in jet fuel. As a result, SAF can be safely mixed with existing jet fuel, without requiring a complete overhaul of existing airport infrastructure, engines, or aircraft design.
SAF does still come with a carbon cost—burning it releases CO₂ into the atmosphere. But compared to fossil-based jet fuels, the carbon emissions of SAF are up to 80% lower. Critically, SAF recycles the CO₂ that is already present in our atmosphere, whereas jet fuel unlocks additional CO₂ that was previously stored deep underground.
Even cleaner aviation fuels—like green hydrogen and renewable electricity—are being developed, but the world is unlikely to be able to fly on them before 2050. In contrast, SAF is proven, rigorously tested, and available now. In fact, it’s been kicking around since 2008. Since then, SAF has powered more than 300,000 flights globally.
Read more: Decarbonizing the aviation industry with SAF
Experts repeatedly stress that SAF is the best solution we have to reduce the carbon footprint of flying in the short term. So why isn’t it more widely available? Cost and governmental backing are the main stumbling blocks. SAF is currently produced in small volumes, making it difficult to compete with the jet fuel market. In fact, SAF currently costs 4-5 times more than fossil kerosene.
Without the right political incentives or appetite, this makes it hard for airlines to sign up to significant long-term supply contracts and it puts off investors. Some of the world’s most dynamic airlines and airports are directly financing and lobbying for SAF. Heathrow Airport, for example, is now giving all its passengers the opportunity to offset their flight’s carbon emissions by purchasing SAF.
Yet without more of these kinds of initiatives, it will be difficult to scale SAF and unlock its full climate benefits. This is where your power as a consumer comes in.
While you may not sit on the board of an airline or manage investment trusts, by raising the demand for SAF you can influence the decisions of the people who do. As Heathrow’s Director of Carbon Strategy puts it: “The more people who talk about and use SAF, the faster we’ll be able to scale-up production and cut carbon emissions from flying for good.”
In addition to lobbying politicians to incentivize the use of SAF and tax the use of non-SAF fuels, you can directly support the development of SAF fuel the next time you fly. Through carbon compensation platforms like CHOOOSE, you can now directly purchase SAF to cover the emissions of your flights.
CHOOOSE is an all-in-one carbon offsetting platform helping companies and individuals manage and minimize their unavoidable carbon footprint—including the carbon they emit through flying.
To start supporting SAF, you just need to drop your flight details into CHOOOSE’s flight carbon emissions calculator. This can be for an upcoming flight, or one you’ve taken in the past. Then just select the percentage of emissions you would like to replace with SAF; any remaining emissions will be offset through CHOOOSE’s hand-picked portfolio of trusted, high-quality reforestation projects.
When you support SAF through CHOOOSE, our partner SkyNRG—pioneer and global leader for sustainable aviation fuel—will supply the SAF volumes you have purchased to an airport close to the SAF production facility. This saves unnecessary carbon emissions and costs from transporting the fuel to your specific aircraft. You will receive a verified certificate proofing the impact you have made. By offsetting your travel footprint with SAF, you help accelerate the transition to more sustainable flying.
Passengers traveling through Heathrow airport can also directly purchase SAF to offset their flight emissions—regardless of their airline or end destination. Just enter your flight details into Heathrow’s flight footprint calculator to get started. This platform is powered by CHOOOSE, with all SAF provided by SkyNRG.