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Greenwashing the Skies

Greenwashing the Skies

Full Title: Greenwashing the Skies: How the Private Jet Lobby Uses "Sustainable Aviation Fuels" as a Marketing Ploy
Author(s): Chuck Collins, Omar Ocampo, and Kalena Thomhave
Publisher(s): Institute for Policy Studies
Publication Date: May 21, 2024
Full Text: Download Resource
Description (excerpt):

The U.S. Congress is positioned in the coming weeks to pass an FAA Reauthorization bill that includes growing investment in “sustainable aviation fuels.” And the U.S. Treasury department has just issued new guidelines for the Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Credit, a provision of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. It is time for the wider public and policy makers to take a closer look at these multi-billion-dollar investments.

“Sustainable aviation fuels” (SAFs) should be considered like products with ambiguous “all natural” labels. While there are kernels of possibility surrounding the development of sustainable aviation fuels, claims that alternative fuels will be a timely substitute for kerosene-based jet fuels require a healthy dose of skepticism.

Currently, “sustainable aviation fuel” is largely a marketing term promoted by the aviation industry to deflect concerns about the sector’s vast greenhouse gas emissions. This is not to dismiss that there are real possibilities for aviation decarbonization. For example, electrification of small short-range aircraft is a real option that can be scaled up in the coming decade.

There may be real possibilities with green hydrogen, synthetic fuels, and other innovations. However, some alternative fuels may have potential while others may contribute to greater ecological and social harms. We should be wary that industry claims about alternative fuels are exaggerated and that instead these fuels may have major ecological downsides.

All statements and/or propositions in discussion prompts are meant exclusively to stimulate discussion and do not represent the views of, its Partners, Topic Directors or Experts, nor of any individual or organization. Comments by and opinions of Expert participants are their own.

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