The civil aviation ministry and the petroleum and natural gas ministry are working to release a sustainable jet fuel plan in the next few months, officials with knowledge of the matter said. This would further create a framework for reducing carbon emissions in the aviation industry.
According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), sustainable aviation fuel is any fuel that has the potential to generate lower carbon emissions than conventional kerosene on a life-cycle basis.
The concept of sustainable jet fuel is still in its infancy among Indian airlines. So far, there have been several demonstration flights with mixed fuel for lower carbon emissions. In August 2018, SpiceJet undertook the first such flight, which was operated on a blend of 75 percent aviation turbine fuel and 25 percent biojet fuel made from jatropha.
IndiGo also took delivery of an aircraft that ran on sustainable jet fuel in February 2022. In December 2021, the airline signed an agreement with the Dehradun-based Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Indian Institute of Petroleum (CSIRIIP) to produce and deploy Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) globally.
“India is expected to be a party to CORSIA from 2027. This would mean that Indian airlines would have a mandate to follow a certain protocol in terms of carbon emissions, which may also include a mandate to operate with a minimum percentage of sustainable aviation fuel. Of course, it will depend on how the local infrastructure is ready to handle the demand and how sustainable the demand is,” said a person with knowledge of the matter.
In 2016, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopted a global market mechanism, the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), to address CO2 emissions from international aviation. CORSIA aims to stabilize the net CO2 emissions of international civil aviation through offset schemes. Offsetting is the action of a company or individual to offset their emissions by financing emissions reductions elsewhere.
Accordingly, from 2021 to 2026, only flights between states that voluntarily participate will be subject to compensation requirements. Countries that have volunteered cover about 77% of all international air traffic. From 2027, virtually all international flights will be subject to mandatory compensation requirements, representing more than 90% of all international aviation activity. By September 2021, 107 states had voluntarily joined CORSIA for 2022.
“We expect some announcement after the upcoming ICAO meeting as well as clarification from India on the CORSIA target,” said another person briefed on the matter. Aviation accounts for around 2-3% of global CO2 emissions.