In October ICAO Member States agreed on a new 2050 Vision for Sustainable Aviation Fuels which will now help to ensure that conventional jet fuels are substituted with sustainable alternatives to a significant percentage by 2050.

The decision was formalized at the Second ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels, held in Mexico City, Mexico. States’ delegates to the event also confirmed that any related alternative fuel deployment must adhere to the sustainability criteria currently being developed by a Task Force at ICAO, which includes States, international organizations and environmental groups.

In his opening remarks at the event, ICAO Council President Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu stressed the need for this new vision, noting that aviation’s emissions reduction progress – currently being achieved through technological innovation and streamlined operations – will be insufficient to meet the sector’s 2020 ICAO targets.

“Even after these have been accounted for, we are still left with a significant mitigation requirement,” he cautioned. “Sustainable alternative fuels are critical to closing this gap.”

President Aliu also noted that a number of airports have begun offering sustainable aviation fuels to airlines interested in purchasing them, and that this approach has led to more than 40,000 sustainable aviation fuels flights being conducted since they were first introduced.

“Through these numerous actions, the aviation sector has now supplied the proof of concept for sustainable aviation fuels, confirming their operational viability and the feasibility of producing them in sustainable ways which lessen the impact of aviation on the climate,” he added.

Since ICAO’s first conference on this topic in 2009, significant progress has occurred, including an internationally recognized alternative fuels specification, five conversion processes approved for their production, and reductions in production costs. The new ICAO Vision agreed at the Mexico event will now help guide international civil aviation stakeholders as they work to employ sustainable fuel alternatives and significantly reduce aviation emissions.

Together with Dr. Aliu, the Conference was opened by Lic. Yuriria Mascott Pérez, Under-secretary of Transport, Mexico, and Mr. Alfonso Sarabia de la Garza, Director General of Aeropuertos y Servicios Auxiliares (ASA), Mexico. Mr. Roberto Kobeh González, Director General, Servicios a la Navegación en el Espacio Aéreo Mexicano (SENEAM), and Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador of ICAO, was elected Chairman of the meeting, and Mr. Kevin Shum, the Director General of Civil Aviation of Singapore, was elected Vice-Chairman.

Dr. Aliu and officials of the Government of Mexico also held a bilateral meeting to discuss, among other items, the progress of sustainable aviation fuel projects and infrastructure development programmes in Mexico, as well as the ongoing support of ICAO to the Government of Mexico in the development of various airport and air navigation initiatives.

ICAO was deeply grateful to the Mexican and Mexico City governments for helping to ensure the excellent organization for the event, even in the aftermath of its recent earthquakes.