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European Parliament passes 70% sustainable aviation fuel requirement by 2050

Members of the European Parliament approved a new law Sept. 13 to increase the uptake of sustainable fuels, such as advanced biofuels or hydrogen, in the aviation sector.

The RefuelEU aviation rules are part of the “Fit for 55 package,” the EU’s plan to reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and to ensure the EU becomes climate neutral by 2050.

They seek to encourage the aviation sector to use sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) in order to cut emissions.

Members of the European Parliament secured an ambitious timeline on the provision of the jet-fuel mix, obliging EU airports and fuel suppliers to ensure that, starting from 2025, at least 2 percent of aviation fuels will be green, with this share increasing every five years: 6 percent in 2030, 20 percent in 2035, 34 percent in 2040, 42 percent in 2045 and 70 percent in 2050.

In addition, a specific proportion of the fuel mix (1.2 percent in 2030, 2 percent in 2032, 5 percent in 2035 and progressively reaching 35 percent in 2050) must comprise synthetic fuels like eSAF.

According to the new rules, the term “sustainable aviation fuels” will include synthetic fuels, certain biofuels produced from agricultural or forestry residues, algae, biowaste, used cooking oil or certain animal fats.

Recycled jet fuels produced from waste gases and waste plastic are also considered “green.”

“Members of the European Parliament ensured that feed and food crop-based fuels and fuels derived from palm and soy materials will not be classified as ‘green,’ as they do not meet the sustainability criteria,” the European Parliament stated in a Sept. 13 press release. “They also managed to include renewable hydrogen as part of a sustainable fuel mix, a promising technology that could progressively contribute to the decarbonization of air transport.”

To promote decarbonizing in the aviation sector and to better inform the public, members ensured that, as of 2025, there will be an EU label for the environmental performance of flights.

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.

It will allow passengers to compare the environmental performance of flights operated by different companies on the same route.

Parliament’s rapporteur (Renew, ES) said:

“This is a tremendous step towards the decarbonization of aviation,” said José Ramón Bauzá Díaz, Parliament’s rapporteur. “It is now time for EU governments to implement the new rules and support the industry to ensure the cost-effective deployment of sustainable aviation fuels across Europe as well as meeting EU targets. There is no time to lose. In a complex and competitive world, I fully believe that ReFuelEU is a great opportunity to position the European Union as a global leader in the production and use of SAF.”

The new SAF rules were adopted by 518 votes in favor, 97 votes against and eight abstentions.

Once Council has approved them, new rules will apply as of Jan. 1, 2024, and some provisions as Jan. 1, 2025.



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