The international aviation sector stands ready to implement the cleaner energy transition that is required to achieve the ICAO’s long term aspirational goal of Net-Zero 2050. To advance the global framework for such transition, ICAO will convene the Third ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3), in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 20 to 24 November 2023. CAAF/3 is a milestone event that will bring together high-level officials from Member States, international organizations and other aviation and energy stakeholders, to adopt an ambitious and comprehensive global framework towards aviation’s cleaner energy transition.
This event will bring together high-level officials from States who have the authority to make policy-related decisions, as well as international organizations with direct involvement in aviation cleaner energy, that are invited to participate as Observers. Though the general public is not able to participate in person, we will be sharing the discussions on ICAO TV for ondemand viewing, here.
During the 41st Session of the Assembly in 2022, ICAO, with Member States, resolved to work together to achieve a collective long-term global aspirational goal for international aviation (LTAG) of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, in support of the Paris Agreement’s temperature goal (Resolution A41-21). The LTAG is a collective goal, with each State contributing to achieving the goal in a socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable manner, in accordance with its national circumstances.
This decision was supported by the LTAG report, which was developed by the ICAO Council’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) following nearly two years of intensive technical work.The report analyzed how CO2 emissions reductions from international aviation can be achieved through a basket of measures, which include aircraft technology advancements, operational improvements, sustainable fuels and energies, and possible out-of-sector measures.
According to the analysis, sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), lower carbon aviation fuels (LCAF) and other aviation cleaner energies are expected to have the largest contribution to aviation CO2 emissions reduction by 2050 (up to 55%).
This contribution will help us significantly in achieving the LTAG, but it is counter-balanced by the enormous challenge to finance and scale up production and distribution of these fuels in all regions. To achieve Net-Zero by 2050, substantial financing, unprecedented assistance, capacity building and global cooperation is required.
ICAO is fostering international partnerships and cooperation, by actively engaging with Member States, industry stakeholders, fuel producers and financial institutions, to facilitate access to the investments that are needed to unleash the full potential of these clean energy sources.
In addition, ICAO is leading the way through its ‘ACT-SAF’ programme, which provides tailored assistance, capacity-building and training for States, through supporting SAF feasibility studies, policy development, and project implementation. ACT-SAF has been delivering tangible results. To date, more than 130 States and International Organizations have joined the programme, and are actively contributing to, as well as receiving support, in line with ICAO’s No Country Left Behind initiative.
Since the First ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/1) in 2009, the SAF industry has made significant progress. Collaboration has been growing, partly as a result of ICAO’s action in bringing together different stakeholders across the SAF industry supply-chain and facilitating dialogues. Such progress, through a number of initiatives and achievements, has been closely monitored and registered by ICAO through SAF tracking tools.
Current SAF production is still low when compared to aviation fuel consumption, resulting in prices that are higher than those of conventional fuel. Consequently, a rapid ramp up in the development and deployment of SAF and other cleaner energies is vital for the environmentally-sustainable future of aviation. Aviation cleaner energies can also create new economic and social benefits for States, while narrowing the price gap in order to minimize any impact on the orderly growth of the sector.
In 2017, ICAO convened its Second Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/2), and CAAF/2 agreed to a Declaration, endorsing the 2050 ICAO Vision for Sustainable Aviation Fuels. The 2050 ICAO Vision represents a living, inspirational path and calls on States, industry and other stakeholders, for a significant proportion of conventional aviation fuels (CAF) to be substituted with SAF by 2050. The Conference further agreed that the Vision would be reviewed periodically through the ICAO stocktaking process and updated at the next and third ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels.
Third ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3)
The Third ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3), to be held in Dubai in November, is expected to set the right global policies to accelerate the energy transition and boost investments in SAF, LCAF and other aviation cleaner energies.
To facilitate the preparations and consultations for CAAF/3, in early 2023, the ICAO Council endorsed a preparatory process and activities to support States ahead of the conference. Since then, ICAO organized a series of five regional seminars in April and May 2023, to raise awareness on the results of the ICAO Assembly and the progress of work related to SAF, LCAF and other aviation cleaner energy.
The regional seminars also included dialogues among participants around on topics such as: 1) supporting policies to promote the development and deployment of cleaner energy for aviation; 2) assistance, capacity-building and training for cleaner energy, including ICAO ACT-SAF programme; 3) financing cleaner energy; and 4) exchange of views on the expectations for CAAF/3.
In preparation for CAAF/3, ICAO also held, from 11 to 13 July 2023, a LTAG Stocktaking event and Pre-CAAF/3 policy and finance consultations, at ICAO Headquarters, which built upon the continued success of annual ICAO Stocktaking events, with a focus on fuel-related approaches and solutions, showcasing the latest information from States, industry and other stakeholders. The initial pre-CAAF/3 consultation among States focused on policy and finance matters, with the involvement of public and private financial institutions and other relevant stakeholders, to consider relevant elements of a global framework for aviation cleaner energy.
The second pre-CAAF/3 Outcomes Consultation event was organized in September to seek some convergency of views on possible CAAF/3 outcomes. Opening on 25 September 2023, this two-day consultation event, brought over 600 participants from 95 States and 19 international organizations in Montréal, for the exchange of views on possible CAAF/3 outcomes under a positive and cooperative atmosphere.
Discussions covered potential policies aimed at promoting the uptake of cleaner energy; mechanisms for supporting the practical implementation of clean energy initiatives; assistance and capacity building activities together with financial aspects to accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy solutions for aviation. Recordings of the consultations are available on ICAO TV for on-demand viewing.
ICAO and our Member States are now ready for final discussions to bridge the remaining difference of views toward reaching robust and successful outcomes at CAAF/3. In preparation for the the Third Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3), ICAO has been drafting a special edition of the Environmental Report to compile in a single publication the work that has been delivered by ICAO on SAF, LCAF and other cleaner energies. In addition to this Special Report, ICAO plans to publish the ICAO Starter’s Guide on International Aviation Cleaner Energy Transition to provide States and all stakeholders with the basics of the aviation cleaner energy transition, as a step-by-step guide, to promote and facilitate the aviation cleaner energy transition.
These documents will be released prior to CAAF/3 and aim at preparing ICAO Member States to engage in this transition and take the decisions that will create the right conditions for the development, deployment and scaling-up of production, distribution and use of SAF, LCAF and other cleaner energies, all around the world, enabling a fair and equitable international aviation green transition. Documentation for CAAF/3 is available, and updated on an ongoing basis here.
The expected adoption of an ambitious and comprehensive global framework for aviation cleaner energies at CAAF/3 can send a strong signal for all stakeholders to work with ICAO and Member States in the aviation clean energy transition. In addition, such a framework will send an important message to the financial sector and fuel producers that there is a need to support the aviation sector in its energy transition. It also sends a message to the next UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP28) regarding the continued leadership role of ICAO in addressing emissions from international aviation.