Friday, June 21, 2024
 
 

Spare a thought for the environment this Christmas

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In the run up to the festive season many people will be travelling by plane to visit family and friends. Spending time with loved ones is a highlight of the holiday season, yet this is a good moment to also spare a thought for the environment.

Air travel facilitates quick and efficient connectivity between regional, national and international locations, enabling personal, business and cultural exchanges on a global scale. At the same time, its impact on the environment cannot be ignored. Rather than prevent flying, however – which would be an extremely short-sighted and negative step – it is a better approach to make aviation more sustainable, and the use of sustainable aviation fuels has a huge role to play in this regard.

The environmental benefits of sustainable aviation fuels

When it comes to environmental benefits, sustainable aviation fuels significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional jet fuels, offering a viable solution to mitigate aviation’s environmental impact. Sustainable fuels have the potential to cut CO2 emissions by up to 80% over the fuel’s life-cycle.

Furthermore, sustainable aviation fuels are derived from renewable sources such as waste oils, agricultural residues, algae, and even municipal solid waste. As a result its production does not rely on finite fossil fuel reserves, contributing to a more sustainable energy ecosystem. Waste products and residues from theagricultural sector become useful raw materials as a result. The ability to utilise Used Cooking Oil and fatty acid distillate, for example – a residue of palm oil processing – in the production of aviation fuels is apromising step forward in greening the sector.

Another advantage of sustainable aviation fuels is that they are compatible with existing aircraft engines and infrastructure, requiring no modifications to current aircraft in use. Furthermore, they deliver comparable performance to traditional jet fuel in terms of efficiency and safety standards.

It is for these reasons that there is an industry commitment to sustainable aviation fuels. Airlines and aviation industry stakeholders are increasingly incorporating these fuels into their operations because of the environmental benefits that they can bring. Many players within the sector have set ambitious targets to increase sustainable aviation fuel usage, signaling a shift towards sustainable practices.

R&D is reducing costs

At the same time there has been negativity expressed about the higher cost of sustainable fuels. But continuous research and development in production methods are driving technological advancements, which are making the production process more efficient and cost-effective.
Prices for sustainable fuels are decreasing all the time, so as technology advances and production scales up, the cost of sustainable aviation fuels are expected to decrease, making it more commercially viable and accessible for widespread adoption in the aviation sector.
As such there will be a global environmental impact to these developments. The widespread adoption of sustainable aviation fuels can significantly contribute to achieving long-term sustainability goals in the aviation industry, and this should be done on a global basis.
The EU should be working with other regions to harvest the results of developments in this sector. Moreover, banning certain feedstocks – as Europe is trying to do with palm oil and soyis counter-productive and will harm the achievement of long-term sustainability goals in the aviation industry, as well as global efforts to combat climate change and reduce carbon emissions.
The best approach to encourage innovation, and meet environmental targets, is an open mind and an open market approach. Air travel brings people together for the festive season and beyond, as well as facilitates the global economy. Thanks to the contribution of sustainable aviation fuels, it need not cost the earth either.
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