EU Takes a Step Forward in the Race to Decarbonize Aviation

European Parliament EU decarbonize aviation

(Credit: Pexels)

by | Apr 27, 2023

European Parliament EU decarbonize aviation

(Credit: Pexels)

The European Parliament and Council members have reached a provisional deal on RefuelEU Aviation rules to increase the uptake of sustainable fuels in the aviation sector. This agreement sets the minimum share of sustainable aviation fuels to be made available at EU airports, with the aim of cutting emissions and ensuring the EU becomes climate neutral by 2050.

Beginning in 2025, at least 2% of aviation fuels will be green, with this share increasing every five years: 6% in 2030, 20% in 2035, 34% in 2040, 42% in 2045, and 70% in 2050. In addition, a specific proportion of the fuel mix must be made from synthetic fuels such as e-kerosene.

Sustainable Fuels

Per the agreement, sustainable aviation fuels will include synthetic fuels, certain biofuels produced from agricultural or forestry residues, algae, bio-waste, used cooking oil, or certain animal fats, and recycled jet fuels produced from waste gases and waste plastic. However, feed and food crop-based fuels and fuels derived from palm and soy materials will not be considered green as they do not align with the sustainability criteria.

MEPs have incorporated renewable hydrogen into the sustainable fuel mix, which is a promising technology that could gradually aid in the decarbonization of air transportation. With its potential to power electric aircraft, hydrogen has the capacity to significantly decrease the industry’s carbon emissions.

Additionally, starting in 2025, airlines will be able to market their flights with a label indicating the expected carbon footprint per passenger and the expected CO2 efficiency per kilometer. Allowing passengers to compare the environmental performance of flights operated by different companies on the same route.

EU member states also have the ability to direct all revenues from non-compliance fines from airlines, airports, or fuel suppliers to research and innovation into bridging the price difference between sustainable and conventional fuels.

Fit for 55 in 2030 Package

Civil aviation accounts for 13.4% of total CO2 emissions from EU transport. The ReFuelEU Aviation initiative is part of the “Fit for 55 in 2030 package“, the EU’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, in line with the European Climate Law.

In a statement, EP rapporteur José Ramón Bauzá Díaz (Renew, ES) said: “After months of intense negotiations, I am happy to conclude the Fit for 55 Package today. I am also proud to say the European Parliament has been successful in defending and advancing the ambitious development of sustainable aviation fuels across the EU. We have created a level playing field through harmonized rules and preserved EU air connectivity. With this regulation, the decarbonization of aviation becomes closer.”

The provisional agreement is subject to approval by the Council Committee of Permanent Representatives and Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee, and subsequently, by the Council and Parliament as a whole. If ratified, this deal will make a substantial contribution to the EU’s objective of achieving climate neutrality by 2050, while also aiding in reducing the aviation sector’s carbon footprint.

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