Pioneering early SAF transactions has been saved
Pioneering early SAF transactions
Takeaways and lessons learned on sustainable aviation fuel
Deloitte is committed to achieving operational net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. To help us get there, we’ve entered into several sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) agreements, many the first of their kind. In this report, we detail our experiences, along with considerations for other companies entering the SAF market.
As part of WorldClimate, Deloitte is focused on driving responsible climate choices, including a commitment to operational net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. To help achieve our goal, we’ve entered into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) agreements with several airlines—among the first of their kind—to cover a portion of our business travel. As the nascent SAF market grows, we’d like to share some early experiences and insights.
- To grow the demand-side market, there is a need for consistency and assurance in corporate reporting.
- Companies need confidence that SAF’s “sustainable” label has integrity.
- In our pilot transactions, different methodologies were used to calculate emission benefits. Standardized emissions calculations would be beneficial in providing a uniform and trustworthy approach.
- To mitigate the risks of negative environmental implications of SAF, there is a need to improve the transparency of SAF supply chains, and particularly feedstock inputs.
- It’s critical that SAF transactions and their outcomes are structured in a standardized way to enable this market to scale efficiently and credibly. Standardization will enable buyers to compare fuel attributes on an equivalent basis and send a clear signal for fuel of the highest integrity through SAF certificate purchases.
- The broad range in costs we paid indicates that the nascent SAF market has ample room to mature and equilibrate across similar types of SAF production.
Our motivation for embracing sustainable aviation
For us, mitigating climate change means demonstrating leadership through tangible climate action. As part of our efforts to meet our emission reduction goals, we’re prioritizing real, tangible, in-sector emissions reductions, not offsets.1 So, in addition to increasing our virtual work and business meetings, we’re working to ensure that when we are onsite with our clients and teams for the moments that matter, we do it with a much smaller emissions footprint. While several innovations show promise in helping to decarbonize the aviation sector,2 sustainable aviation fuel is a key solution available today, which is why we’re focusing our efforts there.
In our first major step toward advancing the SAF market, we purchased the environmental attributes of more than half a million gallons of SAF. These purchases allow Deloitte the right to claim the associated emissions reductions that result from its use. In the future, these claims will be verified by issuing SAF certificates (SAFc). Originally proposed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) Clean Skies for Tomorrow (CST) coalition,3 the SAFc is intended to create a publicly approved way for companies to invest in and claim the emissions reductions from their use of SAF through a digital certificate system without ever owning or handling the physical fuel. However, because the SAFc system does not yet exist, our pilot transactions this year did not generate SAF certificates.4
Our experiences with the SAF market
In spring of 2021, we collaborated on SAF pilot transactions with three airlines: American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines. In these pilots, we purchased the right to claim Scope 3 emissions reductions (see “Sustainability considerations” for more on emissions scopes) associated with more than 630,000 gallons of SAF, resulting in more than 5,500 metric tons of CO2e of emissions reductions relative to conventional jet fuel. These savings equate to the emissions from more than 19,000 economy-class passengers flying one way from New York City to Los Angeles.5
Through these experiences, the valuable insights we gained fell into two broad categories: sustainability considerations and transaction considerations for future SAFc transactions.
What’s next for SAF use and certification?
Piloting how a future SAFc could function and add value is a critical step in Deloitte’s effort to reduce our air travel emissions, and we welcome others to join us. We’d like to thank and acknowledge the airlines for embarking on this journey with us. We hope that our experience can inform and support other organizations in their decision-making processes and that it helps them to articulate why implementing and scaling the SAFc is so critical today.
1. Unless otherwise indicated, “we”, “our”, and “Deloitte” refer to Deloitte LLP in the US, not the entire global organization.
2. Electric and hydrogen-fueled planes, although promising, are unlikely to be viable options for larger commercial flights within the next decade.
3. “Clean Skies for Tomorrow: Sustainable Aviation Fuels as a Pathway to Net-Zero Aviation,” World Economic Forum, April 21, 2021, https://www.weforum.org/reports/a356c865-311e-45ca-845d-efe5f762a820
4. Unless otherwise indicated, in this report, we use the term “pilot” to describe Deloitte’s process in purchasing SAF environmental attributes, and SAFc when referring to the future state of the SAF certificate system that we hope our experience detailed here will inform.