With international travel increasing post COVID-19 and the world looking to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the aviation sector needs to make reductions in its carbon emissions. Although aviation will have to pursue multiple strategies, the large-scale production and use of aviation fuels derived from biomass (known as biojet fuels) could play a critical role in decarbonising the sector.
Globally, the aviation sector is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases at 2% of total global emissions. The emission level is projected to double by 2050 if business continues as usual. To achieve early reductions in emissions during the 2020s and into the 2030s, plus deep reductions by 2050, the use of sustainable aviation fuels (i.e. fuels that have significantly reduced emissions compared to conventional jet fuel) will be essential. Biojet fuels are the most approved type of Sustainable Aviation Fuel available with many additional pathways under consideration.
This report from the Reaching Zero with Renewables series by IRENA provides a comprehensive study of biojet fuels as a decarbonisation option for the aviation sector with a focus of reaching zero in time to fulfil the Paris Agreement and hold the line on rising global temperatures. The urgent timeline required for significant emission reductions means that any decrease in the carbon intensity of fuels needs to begin quickly and accelerate.