Emirates creates a US$ 200 million aviation sustainability fund
Emirates has committed US$ 200 million to fund research and development (R&D) projects focussed on reducing the impact of fossil fuels in commercial aviation. This is the biggest single commitment by any airline on sustainability, with funds to be disbursed over three years. Emirates will identify partnerships with leading organisations working on solutions in advanced fuel and energy technologies. Emirates’ Environmental Sustainability Executive Steering Group will oversee disbursements from the fund, with support from technical experts.
Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline said, "We are ring-fencing US$ 200 million to invest in advanced fuel and energy solutions for aviation, which is where airlines currently face the biggest impediment in reducing our environmental impact. We looked long and hard at the reality we face in commercial aircraft and engine technology, fuel supply chain, and our industry’s regulatory and eco-system requirements. It’s clear that with the current pathways available to airlines in terms of emissions reduction, our industry won’t be able to hit net zero targets in the prescribed timeline.
Emirates’ long-standing environmental policy and strategy focusses its activities on three areas: emissions reduction, responsible consumption, and the conservation of wildlife and habitats.
In January, Emirates successfully completed the first 100 percent SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel)-powered demonstration flight in partnership with Boeing and GE. Since its first flight powered by SAF in 2017, the airline continues to participate actively in the SAF market and seek opportunities in its network to use SAF where feasible.
However, bio-based SAF, currently the only type of commercially available SAF, is extremely limited in supply. IATA estimates that the entire world’s annual supply of SAF meets less than 0.1 percent of airlines’ needs.
Sir Clark “believes the (aviation) industry needs better solutions, and that’s why we’re looking to partner with leading organisations on R&D. Our aim is to contribute meaningfully to practical solutions for the long-term sustainability of commercial aviation."
He added, "Until viable solutions can be found, Emirates will continue to implement environmentally responsible practices throughout our business, including uplifting SAF where feasible, ensuring efficient fleet operations, and inducting modern aircraft into our fleet. Our US$ 200 million fund is earmarked for R&D, and not for operating costs like the purchase of SAF or carbon offsets to tick regulatory boxes - activities we consider business-as-usual."
Emirates participates in a range of industry working groups and stakeholder engagements on sustainable aviation fuel. In recent months, the airline contributed to the development of the UAE’s power-to-liquid (PtL) fuels roadmap, launched in July 2022, and prepared jointly by the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure and the World Economic Forum; as well as the UAE’s National Sustainable Aviation Fuel Roadmap launched in January 2023 by the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure.
The airline has a comprehensive fuel efficiency programme that actively investigates and implements ways to reduce unnecessary fuel burn and emissions, wherever it is operationally feasible. Emirates also invests in renewable energy initiatives including the installation of solar panels to power some of its operational buildings in Dubai, and the use of electric vehicles both airside and landside.