24 September 2023

GreenAir News

Reporting on aviation and the environment

Bank of America joins Amex GBT-Shell SAF book-and-claim business travel programme

Bank of America has become the first financial institution to join the sustainable aviation fuel purchasing programme jointly established by Shell Aviation and American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT). The book-and-claim programme enables corporations to verifiably purchase SAF to compensate for the emissions created when their employees fly on company business. The bank has pledged to support the production and use of 1 billion gallons of SAF by 2030 and has committed to ensure SAF comprises at least 20% of the total jet fuel used each year in flights by its own staff and management. The new partnership coincides with an announcement by Shell that it will supply SAF to Japan Airlines in Los Angeles from 2025.

“By purchasing SAF, and working with other companies, we are taking more tangible steps to help build a more affordable and accessible sustainable aviation fuel market,” said Beth Sullivan, Bank of America’s Head of Global Corporate and Executive Travel.

The Amex GBT-Shell programme adopted by Bank of America is designed to connect airlines with corporations willing to help pay the premium charged for SAF, which is currently two-to-eight times the price of conventional fossil-based jet fuels. The programme uses the blockchain-powered Avelia book-and-claim platform, which leverages the Amex GBT base of over 19,000 clients in 140 countries, and accounts for SAF provided by Shell.

“The business travel sector has a critical role to play in scaling SAF and accelerating the decarbonisation of travel,” said the Amex GBT’s President, Andrew Crawley. “We will move closer to achieving these objectives with more companies like Bank of America making bold commitments and recognising the powerful role the corporate travel programme can play in achieving a company’s broader sustainability goals.”  

Participation by Bank of America in the programme follows multiple previous commitments by the bank to help catalyse the broader SAF market through financing, investment, capital markets and procurement. Its stated aim is to work with aviation fuel suppliers and other members of aviation’s energy ecosystem to help boost production of SAF, and support the development of distribution infrastructure through sustainable financing.

Among its commitments are a partnership with American Airlines to support the purchase of 3 million gallons of SAF over a three-year period, and a 10-year deal with SAF provider SkyNRG to support the production of 1.2 million gallons of SAF per year from 2025.  

The bank is also a founding member of the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance (SABA), a partner in two sustainability programmes of the World Economic Forum, ‘Clean Skies for Tomorrow’, and the ‘First Movers Coalition’, and a member of Breakthrough Energy Catalyst, a specialist investment vehicle established by tech billionaire Bill Gates to fund or invest in emergent technologies, including SAF, which help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The WEF was the catalyst for widespread commitments last year to accelerate SAF use to 10% by 2030. “Companies are moving from pledges to actual business practices,” said Lauren Uppink, the WEF’s Head of Climate Strategy. “This programme and Avelia represents the culmination of years of groundwork building the value chain to support the scaling of SAF, now operational. The theoretical is becoming real.”

Shell Aviation’s President, Jan Toschka, added: “It’s brilliant to see Bank of America leading the finance sector’s charge to decarbonise business travel through SAF. Corporations that choose to fly on SAF have the power to catalyse the scaling of this technology and accelerate decarbonisation across the aviation sector. It’s a fantastic opportunity for businesses to make aviation more sustainable.”

As well as supplying SAF for corporate purchasers, Shell is also upping its supplies to airlines, announcing an agreement to fuel Japan Airlines services in Los Angeles from 2025. Shell says it will provide JAL with SAF volumes of SAF “equivalent to its current estimated jet fuel uplifts in Los Angeles over the supply period.”

While the length of the period was not specified, JAL has committed that 1% of its total jet fuel from 2025 will be SAF, increasing to 10% of total use by 2030 as it strives to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Recently, JAL also set itself the 2030 target of reducing CO2 emissions by 10% compared to 2019 levels.

JAL’s Los Angeles commitment parallels moves by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to mandate 10% SAF use on international flights from Japan, effective from 2030. The proposal also will require fuel suppliers to provide product including a 10% SAF blend. Subject to review by a council of private and public sector members, the SAF blending mandate is expected to be formalised by March next year. 

Photo: Shell Aviation

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