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Rolls-Royce joins Shell in calling for swifter SAF adoption

Warren East, the CEO of Rolls-Royce, has called for the adoption of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to go beyond the current UN target of 10% by 2030.

The aviation sector currently represents a small proportion of global emissions, but it is relatively hard to decarbonise because existing fleets cannot be easily transitioned to use electric or hydrogen, nor is the technology currently available for such a shift. Energy and lubricant company Shell says its SAF, which is made from renewable sources, can lower lifecycle emissions by 80% compared to conventional jet fuel.

East said that the sector’s share of emissions would grow if rapid action is not taken:

“Flying generates between 2% and 3% of global emissions but, as easier-to-abate sectors decarbonise, that proportion will increase, so shortening aviation’s journey to net zero with action in the opening phase of this ‘Decisive Decade’ would be a huge win for the world.”

The CEO added that to achieve this, the aviation sector needed to look beyond its current ambition of using 10% SAF by 2030. EU statistics show that only 0.05% of jet fuel used is currently SAF, and Shell says that it is looking for stronger demand signals before investing in greater production capacity.

East also committed to guaranteeing that the company’s Trent engines, which are fitted in many airplanes around the world, will be capable of running on pure SAF by 2023. At present, it can be blended with conventional aviation fuel at up to 50% for most aircraft.

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