With the production, availability, and adoption of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) accelerating, more companies are becoming involved in its sale, distribution, and ultimate consumption. This has led many in the industry to see the need for oversight and guidance on how SAF is marketed and how its environmental benefits will be calculated and verified.
As a result, aviation organizations representing both the commercial and business aviation sectors joined to launch the Council on Sustainable Aviation Fuels Accountability (CoSAFA). The group—which includes NATA, NBAA, EBAA, IBAC, GAMA, IATA, and Airlines for America—aims to provide clarity, transparency, and accuracy to the accounting practices documenting the use of SAF in multi-party transactions. This includes book-and-claim whereby a customer may pay for the SAF and receive the environmental credit for it, but the actual sustainable fuel may be dispensed somewhere else, perhaps near a SAF refinery thousands of miles away, into an entirely different aircraft. Given such parameters, the organizations realized that the system could be ripe for illicit activity through deceitful means such as double counting of emissions savings or even claiming SAF was involved in the transaction when it wasn’t, which would undermine the trust of users and investors.
The member groups launched the council to ensure the scale-up of SAF production will be accompanied by protocols for the fuel's chain of custody through the supply chain, allowing for product and transaction tracing, a means of verifying relevant data, and proper accounting or claiming of environmental benefits.
“CoSAFA unites sectors from across the aviation industry in creating standards that ensure transactional transparency, a system to efficiently match SAF supplies with demand, and an understanding and accounting of the environmental benefits they are receiving, whether through the uptake of SAF or through book and claim,” said NATA president and CEO Timothy Obitts, who also serves as chairman of the board for CoSAFA. “They will have verifiable data so they will be able to know, for example, what the source of the feedstock was, where it was made, who made it, and if it's book and claim, where it was consumed.”
Bryan Sherbacow, COO of SAF producer World Energy, has been involved with sustainable fuel from its earliest days. That typically involved airlines such as United, which has been placing millions of gallons of blended SAF into the general fuel storage at Los Angeles International Airport for years and receiving the environmental credit under book and claim. “There has really been an amazing complement brought by the business aviation side to the work that the commercial side had been doing for the past several years,” Sherbacow told AIN. “When the business aviation industry came in, the number of participating companies just grew exponentially. You combine all that incremental demand and then this concept of trying to keep it low carbon, and this book and claim becomes an incredibly powerful tool.”
As a SAF provider, Sherbacow deals with companies and organizations across the entire aviation spectrum, many of which were attempting to develop their own environmental accounting measures. “It dawned on me that in an attempt to come up with an elegant solution, we are going to confuse the hell out of people,” he noted, and that led him to gather them all together. He added that many of the SAF producers are now delivering, along with each fuel shipment’s bill of lading, a certificate that does the lifecycle carbon savings analysis on a solely delivered basis, making such evaluations easier for their customers.
By the end of the year, CoSAFA expects to release its environmental accounting framework, which it expects to be compatible with the various existing standards such as EU-ETS, CORSIA, and the U.S. Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). It will establish a voluntary program, validated by third-party audits to ensure user compliance.
“We’re spending a lot of time going through every aspect of the process, working with experts so that we can come up with a standard that is hopefully unimpeachable as to its traceability and data reliability,” Obitts told AIN.