EDF, RMI and Major Companies Launch Alliance to Drive Aviation Decarbonization

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Participants will work to accelerate investment in sustainable aviation fuels.

The benefits of investing in SAF will go beyond the aviation sector, creating vast new clean energy jobs and new, sustainable revenue sources for farmers and tech innovators.

Today, RMI and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) launched the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance (SABA) supported by founding companies Boeing, BCG, Deloitte, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, Netflix, and Salesforce. SABA’s mission is to accelerate the path to net zero aviation by driving investment in high quality sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), catalyzing new SAF production and technological innovation, and supporting member engagement in policy-making.

Despite a temporary setback in global air travel due to COVID, aviation’s contribution to climate change is expected to grow in the coming years. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, demand for jet fuel could reach double pre-pandemic levels by 2050.

“The Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance adds momentum to existing airline-company partnerships that support the purchase of sustainable aviation fuels,” said Kelley Kizzier, Vice President of the Global Climate program at EDF. “SABA will build on the work of these early movers, many of whom seek a more scalable, standardized approach, by establishing a SAF certificate system with robust environmental criteria. Working with sustainability certification schemes, this system will verify and track emission reductions from SAF so that companies, organizations and even individual travelers can achieve their ambitious climate goals.”

SABA is one piece of a much broader global effort to decarbonize aviation. The environmental community and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and its members have been championing the role of SAF for over a decade. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the World Economic Forum’s Clean Skies for Tomorrow coalition incubated many of the concepts SABA now takes forward to implementation.

“We are excited to work with the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance and like-minded initiatives to develop the SAF certificate registry system, which will help make robust SAF certificates a reality for the broader community Clean Skies has worked so hard to build,” said Christoph Wolff, Global Head of Mobility at the World Economic Forum.

“SABA will build on the strong foundation of these global efforts and develop a system that enables SAF to grow at the same pace and scale that renewable electricity grew over the last decade,” said Ned Harvey, Managing Director, Climate Intelligence, RMI. “The benefits of investing in SAF will go beyond the aviation sector, creating vast new clean energy jobs and new, sustainable revenue sources for farmers and tech innovators.”

Key aspects of SABA’s work will include:

Education and Policy Support: SABA will help members navigate the technical aspects of SAF and the SAF market, aviation emissions accounting, and the SAF policy landscape.

Technology Innovation: SABA will assess emerging SAF technologies and work with like-minded organizations to help address barriers to scale and cost reduction.

Investment Opportunity: SABA will establish a rigorous, transparent SAF certificate system enabling air transport customers – not only aircraft operators – to invest in high quality SAF to meet their ambitious climate goals.

“The time is ripe to launch SABA now, as we begin to return to the skies and gather to celebrate Earth Day and support the U.S. Climate Summit,” said SABA Secretariat lead Kim Carnahan, former U.S. Chief Negotiator for Climate Change and Director of Disruption Technologies at ENGIE Impact. “Today is just the beginning for SABA. We will announce additional founding companies soon and plan to open for broad membership at the COP26 climate conference in November 2021.”

Visit business.edf.org/saba for more information.

Company Quotes:

“Boeing has been a pioneer in making sustainable aviation fuels a reality, and we recently set the ambitious goal to make our commercial airplanes capable and certified to fly on 100% SAF by 2030. SABA provides us with the opportunity to reduce our business travel emissions through SAF certificates, while incentivizing more sustainable fuel production that will allow access for others, as well,” said Sheila Remes, Boeing Vice President of Environmental Sustainability.

“We are proud to be a founding member of the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance. BCG has set a bold ambition to achieve net-zero climate impact by 2030 and we support efforts to scale the adoption of sustainable aviation fuels and decarbonize air travel,” said Rich Lesser, CEO, BCG.

“We are proud to be a founding member of SABA and support its efforts to aggregate and increase demand for lower-carbon aviation fuel,” said Scott Corwin, Deloitte U.S. Leader for Sustainability and Climate Change. “Efforts such as SABA are important to harnessing the power of the market to set in motion and sustain the innovations needed to create a zero-carbon future.”

“We’re committed to advancing the development of new innovations that enable the transition to a lower-carbon world,” said Marisa Buchanan, Global Head of Sustainability, JPMorgan Chase. “As part of JPMorgan Chase’s efforts to help our clients reduce carbon emissions, and also achieve carbon neutrality within our own operational footprint, we’re excited to join the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance to help accelerate the path to net zero air transport.” 

“Microsoft has a bold commitment to become carbon negative by 2030 and this requires us to create innovative new solutions and partnerships,” said Elizabeth Willmott, Carbon Program Manager, Microsoft. “As a corporate buyer and vocal supporter of high quality SAF, we’re pleased to join together with companies leading on climate action to support SABA’s mission to decarbonize aviation and ultimately, increase SAF production and adoption.” 

"It's impossible to stabilize the climate without decarbonizing aviation emissions. Air travel plays an important role in how Netflix entertains the world -- we can’t produce films, TV series and nature documentaries without it. We’re co-founding the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance to build a future where climate-friendly air travel is possible, and invite other companies to join the charge," said Emma Stewart, Ph.D., Netflix Sustainability Officer 

“At Salesforce, the environment is one of our key stakeholders. Over this past year, the way we live and work has changed dramatically, and now, more than ever, we must reimagine sustainable business travel and decarbonize aviation. As with all of climate action, we need an all of the above approach -- to rethink when and how much we travel, about moving to digital wherever possible, and that long term we need Sustainable Aviation Fuel to play a critical role in driving air emissions to net zero,” said Patrick Flynn, VP of Sustainability at Salesforce. “We are proud to join SABA and help to accelerate the path to net zero air transport. Together, we can build a more equitable and sustainable world.”

About RMI

RMI is an independent nonprofit founded in 1982 that transforms global energy systems through market-driven solutions to align with a 1.5°C future and secure a clean, prosperous, zero-carbon future for all. We work in the world’s most critical geographies and engage businesses, policymakers, communities, and NGOs to identify and scale energy system interventions that will cut greenhouse gas emissions at least 50 percent by 2030. RMI has offices in Basalt and Boulder, Colorado; New York City; Oakland, California; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing.

More information on RMI can be found at http://www.rmi.org or follow us on Twitter @RockyMtnInst.

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