18/03/2019 – News / Aviation / Fuel / Emissions / Sustainability / Renewables / Neste / GHG / Sweden

Sweden applauded for ambitious aviation GHG emission reduction proposal

Sweden applauded for ambitious aviation

Sweden has an ambitious target of being fossil-free by 2045. As a part of the initiative, a proposal for decarbonising aviation in Sweden was announced this week.


Unregulated carbon pollution from aviation is the fastest-growing source of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions driving global climate change. In fact, if the entire aviation sector were a country, it would be one of the top 10 carbon-polluting nations on the planet, according to the WWF. This problem will only worsen as demand for air travel rises. In 2010, the aviation industry carried 2.4 billion passengers – in 2050, that number is forecast to rise to 16 billion. Without action, says the ngo, emissions from increased air travel will triple by 2050. 


This needn’t be the case, however. Sweden has put its head above the parapet and proposed a dramatic decarbonisation roadmap for its aviation sector. The new proposal suggests that Sweden would introduce a greenhouse gas reduction mandate for aviation fuel sold within the country. The reduction level would be 0.8 per cent in 2021, and gradually increase to 27 per cent by 2030. The reduction levels are estimated to be equivalent of one per cent (11,000 tons) sustainable aviation fuel in 2021, five per cent (56,000 tons) in 2025 and 30 per cent (34,000 tons) in 2030. Without doubt, the new strategy positions Sweden as an undisputed leader in decarbonising aviation.


Ramping up renewable jet fuel production


“We need forerunners and courageous countries to lead the way in the sustainable growth of aviation,” said Peter Vanacker, CEO of innovative oil company Neste, who congratulated Sweden on setting the bar very high on driving down aviation emissions. He added that the ambitious goal would require increased adoption of renewable jet fuel. “This announcement sets a clear and bold target, and shows the direction aviation must take in order to reach its emission reduction target,” Mr Vanacker remarked. “Also, it creates the necessary predictability in demand for Neste and other renewable jet fuel producers to invest in increasing the production.”


Headquartered in Finland, Neste is today the world's largest producer of renewable diesel refined from waste and residues. In 2018 the firm’s revenue stood at €14.9 billion, and this year Neste came third in the Global 100 list of the world’s most sustainable companies. 


Norway has announced its 0.5-per-cent biofuel-blending mandate in 2020. There will be enough capacity on the market to supply the anticipated volumes of renewable jet fuel to both Sweden and Norway. Neste has produced first commercial-scale volumes of Neste MY Renewable Jet Fuel made out of waste and residues, and there will be scaled-up volumes in the following years. Neste has announced that it will build additional renewable products capacity, which will enable production of renewable jet fuel up to one million tons annually by 2022. 


The only viable alternative to fossil fuels


The global aviation industry has set ambitious targets to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from air transport, including carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and beyond, and a 50-per-cent reduction of net aviation carbon emissions by 2050. Aviation needs multiple solutions for greenhouse gas emission reduction, including electrification. However, currently, sustainable aviation fuel offers the only viable alternative to liquid fossil fuels for powering aircrafts.


Clearly, as the number of air passengers continues to skyrocket in the years ahead, implementing ambitious change will call for new technology and raw materials, as well as political will and ambition. The green leadership displayed by nations like Sweden, combined with the innovation of forward-thinking firms like Neste, will be much needed to enable aviation to continue to connect the world – yet to do so with dramatically reduced environmental impact, in the decades to come.

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