Mon 23 Nov 2009 – A conference held by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) concluded last week in Rio de Janeiro with the formation of the Global Framework on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (GFAAF). It will take the form of a continually updated document on the ICAO website that will share information, best practices and future initiatives by ICAO Member States and the air transport industry. ICAO Secretary General Raymond Benjamin said that within 10 years, 10 percent of fuel used by international aviation could come from sustainable alternative sources.
The formation of the GFAAF was part of a Declaration and related recommendations adopted at the conference, and, along with a video ICAO has compiled on alternative aviation fuels, will be taken to the Copenhagen climate change summit next month, where ICAO has a side event. The Declaration will be presented to ICAO’s triennial Assembly to be held later next year.
One of the recommendations calls for ICAO to organize a meeting of States, financial institutions, fuel producers, feedstock producers, aircraft manufacturers and operators to consider the critical issues of cost and financing infrastructure projects dedicated to aviation alternative fuels and incentives to overcome initial market hurdles.
To support the farmework’s objectives, ICAO will engage in four key activities:
· providing forums for education and outreach on sustainable alternative fuels for aviation;
· providing forums for facilitating the exchange of information on financing and incentives for sustainable alternative fuels for aviation programmes working with the relevant UN and regional financial entities;
· facilitating development of standardized definitions, methodologies and processes to support the development of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation, taking into consideration the work that has been done so far in this area; and
· supporting a platform for access to research roadmaps and programmes.
ICAO said other accomplishments that were achieved at the conference included:
· adoption of the Fuel Readiness Level (FRL), developed by Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), as a best practice;
· defined drop-in jet fuel blend and drop-in neat jet fuel;
· recommended the use of life-cycle analysis as the appropriate means for comparing the relative emissions from alternative jet fuels to conventional jet fuel;
· endorsed the use of the existing industry qualification and certification processes as the appropriate means for approving a new alternative jet fuel; and
· efforts were taken to ensure the consideration of aviation alternative fuels within relevant international, regional and State efforts to develop sustainability criteria for all alternative fuels.
According to ICAO, even under the most aggressive technology forecast scenarios, the anticipated gain in efficiency from technological and operational measures will not offset the overall emissionsgenerated by the expected growth in traffic. The gap between air transport emissions growth reduced by efficiency improvements and a chosen lower level of emissions represents a ‘mitigation gap’ that must be closed using other strategies, such as alternative fuels.
In the concluding summary issued at the end of the conference, ICAO said sustainable drop-in alternative fuels produced from biomass or renewable oils offer the potential to reduce life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions and therefore reduce aviation’s contribution to global climate change.
“They could be an important tool in the efforts to close the mitigation gap while allowing the sector to respond to growing demand,” said the document. “Using these fuels may also offer reduced emissions of particulate matter, lessening aviation’s impact on air quality as the result of the significantly lower fuel sulphur content.”
Raymond Benjamin, Secretary General of ICAO, said: “Within 10 years, 10% of the fuel used by international aviation could come from sustainable alternative sources. This will not only substantially reduce the impact of aviation emissions on the environment but will also help address issues of economics and supply security.”
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