EU accepts ‘world’s largest mandate on green fuels’


EU officials described the deal as a “turning point” and “another milestone” for European aviation, saying the measures were designed to reduce reliance on fossil fuel imports and improve energy security.

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European Union negotiators have struck a deal to decarbonize the airline sector, seeking to reduce heat-trapping emissions by boosting the region’s green aviation fuel market.

THE OK on the so-called ReFuelEU Aviation proposal followed talks late Tuesday night and was reached by the European Parliament and the Council. It must now be approved by EU countries to become law, which is usually a formality.

The new rules are set to require aviation fuel suppliers to supply a minimum share of sustainable aviation fuels – or SAF – at EU airports, starting at 2% of the total fuel supplied from by 2025. This figure will rise to 6% by the end of the decade. , before rising to 70% by 2050.

The measures also oblige operators of aircraft departing from EU airports to refuel only with the fuel necessary for the flight in order to avoid emissions related to extra weight or the so-called “refueling” – when operators deliberately carry excess fuel to avoid refueling with SAF.

Airports, on the other hand, will need to ensure that their infrastructure is fit for purpose when it comes to the distribution of synthetic jet fuels.

EU officials described the deal as a “turning point” and “another milestone” for European aviation, saying the measures were designed to reduce reliance on fossil fuel imports and improve energy security.

“Fuel suppliers at EU airports need to provide an increasing share of sustainable aviation fuels and aircraft operators are increasing their use,” Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president of the European Green Deal, said in a statement. communicated.

“The EU is ready to take off towards a more sustainable future for aviation,” he added.

If aviation is to align with the Paris climate accord and curb global warming, the industry will have to move away from fossil fuels completely in the long term. One of the ways the industry is looking to replace conventional fossil jet fuel is to explore the use of SAF.

“More work to do”

The Green Aviation Fuels Act comes shortly after the world’s leading climate scientists released a “survival guide for humanity”, calling for a deep, rapid and sustained reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

This temperature threshold refers to the ambitious goal of the historic Paris Agreement. It is widely seen as a crucial global goal as so-called tipping points become more likely beyond this level of global warming. Tipping points are thresholds at which small changes can lead to dramatic changes in Earth’s entire life support system.

The International Energy Agency has estimated that aviation accounts for more than 2% global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2021, noting that the air transport sector has grown faster in recent decades than road, rail or maritime transport.

Transport & Environment, European coordination group of NGOs, widely welcomed the new European legislation on green fuels for aviation.

“This pioneering agreement is an unwavering endorsement of the world’s largest green fuel mandate for aviation,” said Matteo Mirolo, head of aviation policy at T&E. “The EU has doubled down on synthetic fuels, which are key to decarbonizing the sector, and has limited the use of unsustainable biofuels in aircraft.”

Visitors watch the airport apron from an observation deck, during a day-long strike by security screening staff, at Berlin Brandenburg Airport in Berlin, Germany, Monday, April 24 2023.

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T&E said the EU’s proposed targets include requirements for synthetic fuels, such as e-kerosene, which they say are the only type of SAF that can be sustainably increased to meet industry fuel demands. .

Negotiators also excluded some of the more controversial biofuel feedstocks, such as food crops and palm oil by-products, but T&E noted that other problematic feedstocks were included and that they were neither sustainable nor scalable.

“The SAF ramp-up can now begin, but there is still work to be done,” Mirolo said. “Ensuring the success of SAF will require industrial support policies for synthetic jet fuel, but also stronger safeguards to ensure no unsustainable biofuels leak into aircraft tanks.”

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