Climate protection in aviation: FOCA report indicates importance of sustainable fuels

Bern, 15.12.2022 - Net-zero fossil CO2 emissions from aviation by 2050: that is the national and international climate protection target set by the aviation industry. To achieve this target, Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) are needed. So states a strategy report by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA). The recently published report shows how the development and use of SAFs can be promoted in Switzerland.

Aviation contributes to global warming. In 2019, 5.7 million tonnes of greenhouse gases were emitted by aircraft that took off from airports in Switzerland. That corresponds to around 11% of Switzerland's greenhouse gases. In addition, certain substances (so-called non-CO2 emissions) may have an impact on global warming but are not considered greenhouse gases. Switzerland's long-term climate strategy aims to eliminate climate change-contributing emissions as far as possible by 2050.

SAF central to Switzerland's climate objectives

The FOCA's strategy report acknowledges the importance of SAFs for achieving the climate objectives in air transport: the use of SAFs is one of the most promising approaches to reducing aviation's impact on our climate. In addition to fossil CO2 emissions, this will also greatly reduce non-CO2 emissions. SAFs can already be used with the aircraft and aircraft fuelling infrastructure we use today.

However, the right framework conditions are needed for the SAF market to grow: first of all by legally requiring suppliers of aviation fuel in Switzerland to add SAF to fossil kerosine in increasing quotas. Secondly by promoting the development of SAF technologies. The dispatch on the revised CO2 Act for the period from 2025, which was adopted by the Federal Council in mid-September 2022, provides for these two instruments. The draft is currently being discussed in Parliament.

Working in the same direction nationally and internationally

At the national level, the aviation industry is united in its support for the SAF solution. The report emphasises the importance of a coordinated approach throughout Europe: adopting a requirement to add SAFs to kerosine is currently also being discussed in the EU.

Important steps are also being taken worldwide to make aviation more environmentally friendly: at the general assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) this October, member states adopted a goal to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions in aviation by 2050. SAFs play an important role in achieving this goal.

SAFs part of the Action Plan for Sustainable Development

The Federal Council's 2030 Sustainable Development Strategy provides for the creation of a strategy for the development, promotion and use of sustainable aviation fuels as a measure of the 2021–23 Action Plan. The FOCA prepared a corresponding strategy report in collaboration with the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), the aviation industry (represented by the umbrella organisation Aerosuisse) and experts from the scientific community, including ETH Zurich.

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