In the modern era, air travel has seamlessly woven itself into our lives, offering easy connectivity for long distance travel. Despite its efficiency, concern over the environmental impact arose in recent years, underscoring the need to shift into low-carbon fuel and a more sustainable travel industry. Addressing this, Airbus is building a collaboration with the Indian Institute of Petroleum to develop India’s own sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
India’s Aviation Boom
The aviation industry has greatly contributed to global warming. According to the International Energy Agency in 2022, aviation contributed to 2% of global energy-related CO2 emissions, or around 800 million tons of CO2.
Globally, air travel has been growing faster than other transportation modes in recent decades. This rings true in India as well. In 2022, the country doubled its operational civil airports to 149. In addition, two of India’s leading aviation companies, Air India and IndiGo, are responding to a projected 7% annual growth in India’s passenger numbers by expanding their aircraft numbers, with Air India ordering 470 planes and IndiGo ordering 500 airplanes.
On the other hand, the growth of the aviation industry is parallel to its negative environmental impacts. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has revealed that aviation’s overall impact is 2 to 4 times greater than the impact of its carbon emissions. How? At high altitudes, aviation emissions alter the atmospheric properties, contributing to the rise in greenhouse gasses and condensation trails, resulting in a climate-warming effect greater than by CO2 alone.
Developing India’s Sustainable Aviation Fuel
In an effort to minimize the environmental impact of the aviation industry, Airbus and the CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum (CSIR-IIP) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on January 19, 2024. Through this, they will collaborate on the development and testing of indigenous Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in India.
“SAF is one of the main pillars of Airbus’ decarbonisation roadmap. We believe that India has the potential to become a global SAF production hub leveraging feedstock availability, local talent, and technological expertise as well as India’s ability to scale up solutions,” said Rémi Maillard, President and Managing Director of Airbus India and South Asia.
Sustainable aviation fuel is a crucial element in Airbus’s decarbonization plan, and the collaboration aims to advance India as a global SAF production hub, contributing to the aviation sector’s net-zero target by 2050. This partnership plans to utilize locally sourced feedstocks, with a focus on technical assessment for SAF production.
Collaboration for Sustainable Aviation Industry
The pursuit of sustainable living is the responsibility of every individual and group. Yet, major industry players bear higher responsibility and opportunity to transform the current landscapes toward sustainability.
Continued collaborations among businesses and governments could and should address one of the factors hindering SAF popularity, its cost. With research and development, sustainable aviation fuel can become more cost-effective and competitive with conventional fuel. Therefore, widely-used, affordable low-carbon fuel can be made possible, accelerating sustainable transport for all.
Editor: Abul Muamar
Dinda is a Reporter Intern at Green Network Asia. She studies undergraduate program of International Relations at President University. She is passionate to write about sustainable consumption, diversity equity and inclusion, and youth empowerment.