British Airways (BAY.L) is among a group of leading air carriers that has joined the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group.
Other new members of the industry working group include Alaska Airlines (NYSE: ALK), Cathay Pacific (0293.HK), TUIfly and Virgin Blue (VBA.AX).
Since its launch in the fall of 2008, the User Group has established a foundation of airlines, environmental organizations, research projects and practices and principles that can help accelerate the commercialization and availability of sustainable biofuels.
Current airline members include Air France (AF.PA), Air New Zealand (AIR.NZ), ANA (All Nippon Airways)(ANCA.DE), Cargolux, Gulf Air, Japan Airlines (JALSY.PK), KLM, SAS, and Virgin Atlantic Airways. Aircraft maker Boeing (NYSE: BA) and Honeywell's UOP (NYSE: HON), a refining technology developer, are associate members.
The User Group is focused on making renewable fuel sources available that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while lessening commercial aviation's dependence on fossil fuels and potentially reduce aviation sector exposure to fuel price volatility.
To be eligible for membership, group members must subscribe to sustainability criteria that stipulate the following:
- Jet fuel plant sources should be developed in a manner that is non-competitive with food and where biodiversity impacts are minimized; in addition, the cultivation of those plant sources should not jeopardize drinking water supplies.
- Total lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from plant growth, harvesting, processing and end-use should be significantly reduced compared to those associated with jet fuels from fossil sources.
- In developing economies, development projects should include provisions or outcomes that improve socio-economic conditions for small-scale farmers who rely on agriculture to feed them and their families and that do not require the involuntary displacement of local populations.
- High conservation value areas and native eco-systems should not be cleared and converted for jet fuel plant source development.
User Group members have pledged to work through the Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels (RSB), a global initiative, consisting of environmental organizations, financiers, biofuel developers, biofuel-interested petroleum companies, the transportation sector, developing-world poverty alleviation associations, research entities, and governments.
Working through User Group representatives, aviation industry input is being included in "Version 1" RSB principles and standards, which is expected to be the first widely reviewed and accepted set of international standards for sustainable biofuel production
In addition to previously announced research projects on algae and jatropha curcus the group will also launch a sustainability assessment of halophytes, a class of plants that thrive in saltwater habitat, later this year.