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  • The European Council

European Council adopts new law to decarbonize aviation sector

Source: European Council

More renewable and low-carbon fuels will reduce the carbon footprint of the aviation sector and create a level playing field for a sustainable air transport in the EU following the Oct. 9 adoption of a new regulation by the Council on the so-called “ReFuelEU aviation” initiative.

“The new law will provide legal certainty to aircraft operators and fuel suppliers in Europe,” said Raquel Sánchez Jiménez, the Spanish acting minister of transport, mobility and urban agenda. “By kick-starting the large-scale production of sustainable aviation fuels, it will soon make the EU’s aviation sector much greener. This is a key step in our broader effort to reach our climate targets at [the] European and global level.”

The main objective of the RefuelEU aviation initiative, as a key part of the EU’s Fit for 55 package, is to increase both demand for and supply of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which has lower CO2 emissions than fossil-fuel kerosene, while ensuring a level playing field across the EU air-transport market.

The new legislation aims to put air transport on the trajectory of the EU’s climate targets for 2030 and 2050, as SAF is one of the key short- and medium-term tools for decarbonizing aviation.

It should address the current situation that is hindering SAF development: low supply and much higher prices than fossil fuels.

The new regulation contains the following main provisions:

  • The obligation for aviation-fuel suppliers to ensure that all fuel made available to aircraft operators at EU airports contains a minimum share of SAF from 2025 and, from 2030, a minimum share of synthetic fuels, with both shares increasing progressively until 2050. Fuel suppliers will have to incorporate 2 percent SAF in 2025, 6 percent in 2030 and 70 percent in 2050. From 2030, 1.2 percent of fuels must also be synthetic fuels, rising to 35 percent in 2050.

  • The obligation for aircraft operators to ensure that the yearly quantity of aviation fuel uplifted at a given EU airport is at least 90 percent of the yearly aviation fuel required, to avoid tankering practices, which would bring additional emissions from extra weight

  • The scope of eligible sustainable aviation fuels and synthetic aviation fuels includes certified biofuels, renewable fuels of nonbiological origin (including renewable hydrogen) and recycled carbon aviation fuels complying with the Renewable Energy Directive sustainability and emissions saving criteria, up to a maximum of 70 percent with the exception of biofuels from food and feed crops, as well as low-carbon aviation fuels (including low-carbon hydrogen), which can be used to reach the minimum shares in the respective part of the regulation

  • Rules on the competent authorities, to be designated by the member states to enforce this regulation, and rules on fines

  • The creation of a Union labeling scheme about environmental performance for aircraft operators using SAF, which will help consumers make informed choices and will promote greener flights

  • Data collection and reporting obligations for fuel suppliers and aircraft operators enabling to monitor the effects of this regulation on the competitiveness of EU operators and platforms

Following the formal adoption Oct. 9 by the Council, the new regulation will be published in the EU’s official journal in the coming weeks and will enter into force the 20th day after this publication. The new regulation will apply from Jan. 1, 2024, except articles 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10, which will apply from Jan. 1, 2025.

The ReFuelEU Aviation initiative is part of the Fit for 55 package.

Presented by the European Commission on July 14, 2021, the package aims to enable the EU to reduce its net greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and to achieve climate neutrality in 2050.

On June 2, 2022, the Transport Council reached a general approach on the proposal.

Following interinstitutional negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament (trilogues), the two co-legislators reached a provisional political agreement on the file April 25.

Click here for more information on the new regulation.



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