Sustainable Aviation Fuels Summit Remarks
Remarks as prepared for delivery.
Thank you, Laurence [Wildgoose]. Good morning, everyone.
Welcome to the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Summit. It’s great to have such a wide ranging group of stakeholders here for what I hope will be a big step toward making aviation more sustainable.
Climate change is one of the defining challenges of our time.
The Biden-Harris administration has made addressing this challenge a top priority.
So, we in the FAA got to work and conducted detailed analyses to understand what it would take for aviation to reach net-zero emissions. We also spent a lot of time working with our partners across the Federal Government to understand what could be done to reduce aviation emissions.
Aviation has no “silver bullet” to reduce its emissions. So, when we developed the Aviation Climate Plan, we took a holistic approach, where we seek reductions from a variety of places, both within and outside the aviation sector. This includes airframe and engine technology, sustainable aviation fuels, air traffic operations, airport infrastructure, and other policy measures.
A big step along the process of developing the Climate Action Plan occurred in September of last year with the Sustainable Aviation Roundtable event, hosted by the White House. That event highlighted many federal actions that are central to our decarbonization goal.
One of those efforts is the Sustainable Flight National Partnership, a joint effort between the FAA and NASA to demonstrate new technologies by 2030 that can achieve at least a 30 percent improvement in aircraft fuel efficiency.
The FAA is contributing to this effort through the Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise … or CLEEN … program with industry.
CLEEN’s goal is to develop aircraft technologies that will reduce noise, emissions, and fuel burn and enable the aviation industry to expedite integration of these technologies into current and future aircraft.
Technologies developed under the first two phases of CLEEN over the past ten years are entering the fleet in new aircraft and engines—and they are making a difference.
These technologies are estimated to save the aviation industry more than 34 billion gallons of fuel by 2050, and lower CO2 emissions by more than 400 million metric tons.
Also, the FAA continues to improve air traffic efficiency. At 27 hub airports, we’re implementing new software that calculates the best time for aircraft to push back from the gate, so they can roll right to the runway. Less time waiting to taxi means less fuel burn and emissions. As a long time Captain, I appreciate less time to get to the runway.
While improved technology and more efficient operations are important parts of our plan to get to net zero emissions by 2050, we really need sustainable aviation fuels to get us there.
Simply put, sustainable aviation fuels, or SAFs, hold the potential to decouple aviation growth from its CO2 emissions. And we can do it without making any changes to our current infrastructure, engines, and aircraft, while also maintaining the safest aerospace system in the world.
This week’s summit is a chance to match our collective efforts and energy to scale up the production of SAF. These liquid fuels offer significant life-cycle greenhouse gas emission reductions of 80 percent or more for each gallon of petroleum jet fuel they replace.
But as everyone here knows, there are some big challenges to address before we can achieve mass production of SAFs.
There is a need to address the gap between jet fuel price and the cost of sustainable fuels.
We need to reduce financial risks to pave the way for greater investment in production infrastructure.
We need to make sure that the emissions benefits of SAF are calculated with scientific rigor and credited transparently.
And we need to ensure the right regulatory and incentive policies are put in place.
We have a set of expert panels today that will examine these challenges and solutions more thoroughly.
In the past, I think there was an either-or proposition. Either we can be cost effective or we could go green. But that’s a false choice.
We need to think in terms of the full value proposition of SAF – this includes the environmental, energy security, and job creation benefits, all of which can be realized, while maintaining the highest safety standards.
SAF provides a strong environmental benefit from both carbon emissions reductions and air quality improvements.
SAF provides more energy security, by adding more sources of energy and distributed production. There’s no doubt that today’s volatility in oil prices and the uncertainty in oil markets reinforce our need for greater SAF production.
And, SAF provides economic benefits to regions across the country, creating jobs across the supply chain and in underserved and rural areas.
By working together, we can realize this value proposition.
The federal government is taking many actions toward this goal.
The Biden administration announced the SAF Grand Challenge last fall, outlining a commitment to work with industry to produce 35 billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel per year by 2050, meeting 100 percent of U.S. aviation fuel needs.
And, the Challenge calls for a near term goal to produce at least three billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuels by 2030.
That’s a big jump. Last year, U.S. SAF use was around five million gallons. The SAF supply is beginning to grow, but not as quickly as we need it to.
We believe that with industry and government collaborating, and committing to the right set of actions, we can make great progress to decarbonize aviation.
Right now, the Department of Transportation is collaborating with our partners in the departments of Energy and Agriculture on the creation of a roadmap to support these ambitious goals.
Later today, federal agency leads will take a deeper dive into the actions outlined in this roadmap.
So you can see that the federal government is committed to supporting SAF, and you’ll hear more on that today from colleagues at the Departments of Energy and Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The FAA has been working for over a decade to advance SAF through fuel testing … lifecycle and production analysis … and industry coordination efforts.
Since 2006, the FAA has supported the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative, or CAAFI. This critical public-private forum continues to engage the agriculture, energy, and research communities to advance the aviation sector’s adoption of SAF.
I want to take a moment to thank the folks at CAAFI. Together, with your sponsors, you have built a powerful coalition of stakeholders that we are seeing in attendance here today.
While government is doing many things, we can’t, and we aren’t, doing it alone. In recent years, industry has stepped forward by setting similarly ambitious climate goals.
On a monthly basis, we have seen more airlines committing to use SAF, while also renewing their fleets with more efficient, quieter, and cleaner aircraft technologies.
As we make progress in these areas, we can encourage similar efforts throughout the global aviation sector.
We’ll build momentum as we head into September’s ICAO General Assembly, where we hope there will be an internationally-agreed upon, long-term climate goal.
This would send a strong signal to support the transition to sustainable aviation fuels around the world.
Over the next three days, we’ll discuss in more detail both the challenges and proposed solutions toward achieving wide-scale SAF production.
If we have the right policies, plus strong will and collaboration, then we’ll be successful.
We’ll expand the production of sustainable fuels … and mitigate aviation’s impact on the climate … while creating jobs, strengthening our nation’s energy security, and ensuring safety throughout the process.
So let’s have a productive summit. And we look forward to working with you to realize our common goal.