Virgin suggests that Australian airlines should make an effort to lower their emissions by purchasing more environmentally-friendly fuel for international flights.
Virgin Australia is advocating for changes in emissions reduction legislation to allow Australian airlines to purchase more environmentally friendly fuel for use on international flights. They are requesting that this fuel be considered equivalent to using it on domestic flights.
During the AAA national conference in Melbourne on Tuesday, leaders in the aviation industry recognized that sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is currently the only viable solution for airlines to meet their climate commitments without reducing their operations.
The aviation industry in Australia is facing significant challenges due to the high cost and limited availability of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which is currently 2.5 times more expensive than traditional jet fuel. This is a greater problem for Australia as there is no significant production of SAF within the country.
The formation of the Jet Zero Council by the Australian government is relatively recent, as it has only met once since its establishment earlier this year.
Australian airlines must import the fuel source to fulfill their commitments under the safeguard mechanism, as private-sector initiatives are not yet developed. This mechanism mandates that the country’s biggest polluters decrease their emissions intensity by 4.9% annually until 2030.
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Companies that fail to decrease their emissions intensity sufficiently are required to purchase carbon offset credits from companies that go above and beyond the mandated level of pollution reduction.
Virgin Australia’s Christian Bennett, who is the chief sustainability officer, proposed that Australian airlines should have easier access to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in order to decrease emissions from foreign airlines. This could potentially be considered a positive impact under the safeguard mechanism, rather than the current requirement for Australian carriers to either import SAF (resulting in fuel consumption) or purchase credits under the scheme.
According to Bennett, purchasing SAF in this country is currently not possible due to its lack of production and high cost. This raises the need for a careful policy discussion as there is a difference between physically obtaining SAF and reaping its environmental advantages.
“If we are unable to physically access SAF in Australia for the next ten years, we must consider alternative methods such as booking claims and utilizing partnerships with countries like the United States. This will allow us to access the environmental benefits of SAF before being able to physically inject it into airplanes at Australian airports.”
“We will need to carefully navigate this issue, as we believe it is necessary to modify the safeguard mechanism in order to account for these credits. Otherwise, it would not be financially feasible for us to proceed.”
According to Bennett, if emissions reductions are not made, it could result in increased airfare costs for Australians.
In conclusion, it is essential that we maintain affordable aviation options for all Australians. It would be unacceptable if air travel within Australia became a luxury. We must strive to prevent this by creating appropriate policies.
In the meantime, Graincorp, a commodity trader, and IFM Investors, a global investment firm with a portfolio that includes major Australian airports, have revealed their plans to conduct investigations into constructing multiple SAF production facilities along the east coast of Australia. These studies will focus on utilizing waste and residues, oils derived from crops, and bio-organics.
According to Danny Elia, the head of asset management for IFM, the goal of the initiative is for their initial plant to supply approximately 8% of Australia’s yearly jet fuel demand by 2030.
The CEO of GrainCorp, Robert Spurway, stated: “This presents a chance to assist in establishing a profitable domestic market for farmers and feedstock producers in Australia.”
In early 2021, Qantas revealed a collaboration with the Queensland government and Jet Zero Australia (an independent company not associated with the government’s council) to transform byproducts from sugar cane in northern Queensland into SAF.
Australia’s domestic aviation goals are covered by their own emissions reduction program. However, emissions from international flights are addressed through the International Civil Aviation Organization’s carbon offsetting and reduction plan for international aviation.
Airbus reports that all of their commercial airplanes have the ability to fly using a blend of SAF up to 50%. Aviation is responsible for just over 2% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.2 emissions.