Airplane flying above the forest, bottom view, to connote the importance of protecting our environment and promoting sustainability

New global SAF declaration lacks detail and ambition, argue critics


Singapore Airlines and three aerospace OEMs have signed a new declaration calling for global industry players to work together to increase the uptake of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) over the coming decade, as part of efforts to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

But critics argue that the pact lacks detail and would have been more relevant a decade ago than at this stage in the fight against climate change.

The Global Sustainable Aviation Fuel Declaration was announced during the recent Singapore Airshow. SIA is the first airline to have signed up so far, alongside manufacturers Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Safran. The airline simultaneously announced that it will take part in a one-year SAF pilot program, through which it will take delivery of 1.25 million liters of fuel produced by Neste from used cooking oil. The SAF will be blended with kerosene at an undisclosed ratio and used to power all SIA and Scoot flights from Changi airport from the third quarter of this year.   

The four companies behind the declaration, which is open to all airlines, aviation and aerospace stakeholders, say it aims to “decarbonize the aviation industry by accelerating the development, production and consumption of sustainable aviation fuels”.

However, Dan Rutherford, aviation and shipping director at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), tells Runway Girl Network he views the document as being “vague and poorly represented”, and “maybe something that might have been useful in 2012, but not particularly relevant to today”.

IATA said in October that reaching the aviation industry’s net-zero target by 2050 would require the mitigation of 1.8 gigatons of carbon – 65% of which could potentially be abated through SAFs, with the right government support and full cooperation among all industry stakeholders. But there is a long way to go. While a number of airlines have already started operating some flights on a blend of SAF and kerosene, volumes remain stubbornly low and represent less than 1% of global jet fuel demand.

In their declaration, SIA, Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Safran acknowledge that SAF production capacity would need to scale up dramatically to meet net-zero targets by mid-century. They call on OEMs to ensure all new aircraft can use 100% SAF from 2030, on fuel providers to build more production facilities and introduce new pathways, and on airlines to maximize SAF usage across their networks. 

But Rutherford argues that the declaration could have gone further, for instance by calling for the SAF blending mandate proposed in the European Commission’s draft ReFuelEU Aviation legislation to be adopted in other regions of the world. While the declaration mentions ReFuelEU and commits to working with the initiative, it does not explicitly call for the introduction of similar mandates outside Europe.


“A more useful declaration would do one of two things: express strong support for the ReFuelEU mandate and call for it to be adopted by countries outside Europe; or call for aggressive global carbon pricing to bridge the price gap between SAFs and Jet A. Since this does neither, I’m not impressed,” says Rutherford.

Singapore Airlines tells Runway Girl Network that its “early support” of the Global SAF Declaration “demonstrates the importance SIA places on working toward the goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050”.

Citing other measures, such as its SAF pilot and fleet-renewal program, the carrier says it will “continue to reduce our impact on the environment, while delivering a competitively-priced product to consumers”.

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