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RSB launches first Book & Claim pilot with Air bp to enable certified SAF claims from Microsoft and United Airlines

The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) has launched a "Book & Claim" pilot with aviation fuel supplier and distributor Air bp that intends to unlock increased supply for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) users and their customers, including United Airlines Inc. (United), and Microsoft Inc. Microsoft is joining the pilot to purchase SAF sustainability credits via RSB’s book & claim system to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) lifecycle emissions associated with its corporate travel.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) has launched a “Book & Claim” pilot with aviation fuel supplier and distributor Air bp that intends to unlock increased supply for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) users and their customers.

In this pilot which is currently being worked on by the various parties, Air bp is to supply 7 000 (US) gallons (≈ 26 500 litres) of waste-based SAF to United at UK airports that achieve an approximately 80 percent reduction of lifecycle GHG emissions in comparison to the fossil fuel it replaces.

These resulting emission reductions will be claimed by Microsoft and the transaction will be registered with RSB.

Elena Schmidt, RSB’s Executive Director has been driving the development of RSB’s approach to Book & Claim with the RSB team for several years.

I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Microsoft and United’s participation in this exciting pilot project with Air bp. Their participation in the project really highlights how this innovative approach can add real value for companies who are setting ambitious goals on decarbonization – taking the pilot into the real world. Microsoft’s commitment to sourcing RSB-certified fuel is a fantastic example of how companies can use their buying power to drive positive impacts, even outside their own direct supply chains, said Elena Schmidt.

Ensuring credibility and eliminating fraud

Ensuring credibility in this approach – specifically to make sure that there is no double-counting of the environmental benefit – is vital for SAF’s long-term prospects as a tool to reduce the carbon footprint of the aviation industry, and its support by the market.

RSB has developed a Book & Claim system, grounded in its robust requirements for traceability and subject to third-party audits and verification, to guarantee full traceability and mitigate the risk of double counting.

The Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance (SABA), a joint initiative of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and RMI, is advising on the design of the Book & Claim system and collaborating with RSB on the development of an electronic registry to transparently record SAF lifecycle emission reductions transactions.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from air travel is a considerable challenge for companies and for the world. To face it, we need companies and airlines to show leadership, model transparency, and hold themselves to high sustainability standards. The pilot that Microsoft and United Airlines are undertaking is an example of the leadership we need to achieve widespread adoption of high-integrity SAF. The Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance looks forward to applying the lessons learned from this pilot to the development of an electronic book and claim registry, alongside RSB, so that more air transport customers can benefit, Kelley Kizzier, VP of Global Climate for Environmental Defense Fund, which co-leads SABA.

The feedback and input of RSB’s multi-stakeholder membership – representing industry, civil society, academia, and more – on the Book & Claim pilot project will be key to ensuring credibility and broad support of the system going forward.

This Book & Claim system is a game-changer for the SAF market. Just like early solar and wind electricity renewable electricity credits, virtual ownership of SAF’s environmental attributes can accelerate the technology by unlocking new payers and their resources, said Bryan Fisher, Managing Director of RMI’s Climate-Aligned Industries program and co-leader of SABA.

Part of a larger agreement

This pilot is a demonstration that is part of a larger agreement between United and Microsoft. Microsoft has made a commitment to sourcing future fuels from only RSB-certified supply chains through their SAF criteria which considers issues of land use, traceability, feedstock sourcing, and more.

This is a clear signal to the SAF industry that brands and end-users are going to be looking for fuels that not only provide emission reductions, but that robust and credible sustainability credentials are going to be vital.

Sustainable aviation fuel is a critical strategy to decarbonize aviation, and a healthy market for SAF in the future depends on clear carbon accounting rules today. We need to ensure transparency and credibility for any environmental claims for sustainable aviation fuel purchases. This pilot offers a promising opportunity to do just that, said Elizabeth Willmott, Carbon Program Manager, Microsoft.

With United providing a vital bridge between Microsoft and the fuel from Air bp, their participation is showcasing how airlines can help to bring meaningful benefits, in the form of credible and traceable emission reductions, to their corporate customers.

Successful decarbonization partnerships require transparency and trust. With this project, we are making transparency and trust easier, enabling future partnerships that will help create a sustainable future for commercial aviation, said Lauren Riley, United’s Managing Director of Global Environmental Affairs and Sustainability.

About Book & Claim

Book & Claim is a solution that enables organizations, whether airlines or their traveler/shipper customers, to purchase sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) lifecycle emissions reductions without being geographically tied to a SAF production site.

Essentially it enables airlines to purchase “SAF Credits” on top of their conventional fuel, paying the premium for SAF to the SAF producer, who then sells their SAF as conventional fuel. This solves the issue of the often vast distances between SAF supply (a production facility) and demand (an airline fulfilling its mandated and voluntary sustainability commitments).

While the customer is not flying on SAF, the funding of its purchase demonstrates market demand and supports the development of SAF supply globally.

In turn, the customer can claim the lifecycle emissions reduction associated with this SAF purchase funding towards their voluntary greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reduction goals.

So that this process is managed in a way that reduces the risk of fraud, a Book & Claim registry is used to trace transactions and ensure they are credible, traceable and do not lead to double counting of the GHG benefit by multiple parties.

The SAF supplier ‘books’ their SAF into the registry, where it is then ‘claimed’ by a customer. A robust traceability system that guarantees full transparency and zero risk of fraud, is essential to ensure the system can be widely supported by the market — which is why the registry is managed independently by a trusted partner.

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