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Sustainable Aviation Fuel

EU Parliament and Council reach informal deal on SAF

EU Parliament and Council reach informal deal on SAF
The European Parliament and Council have reached a provisional deal on sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

A provisional deal, reached in the late hours of April 25, 2023, between the European Parliament and Council negotiators on RefuelEU Aviation rules, sets the minimum share of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to be made available at EU airports, to cut emissions and ensure the EU becomes climate neutral by 2050.

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Civil aviation accounts for 13.4 percent of total carbon dioxide (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 (GHG) emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, in line with the European Climate Law, and first presented by the European Commission in July 2021.

The European Parliament and Council negotiators agreed to increase the uptake of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), such as advanced biofuels or hydrogen, in the aviation sector.

The informal deal still needs to be approved by the Council Committee of Permanent Representatives and Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee, and then the Council and Parliament as a whole.

Increasing amounts SAF to 2050

MEPs secured an agreement 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 electro-fuels (e-kerosene).

According to the deal, the term ‘sustainable aviation fuels’ will include synthetic fuels, certain biofuels produced from agricultural or forestry residues, algae, bio-waste, used cooking oil (UCO) 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.”

They also managed to include renewable hydrogen as part of a SAF mix, as it is seen as “a promising technology that could progressively contribute to the decarbonization of air transport.”

Eco-label for flights and investments in greener fuels

To further promote the decarbonizing of the aviation sector and to inform the public, MEPs 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 kilometre. It will allow passengers to compare the environmental performance of flights operated by different companies on the same route.

MEPs also managed to convince EU member states 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.

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, commented EP rapporteur José Ramón Bauzá Díaz (Renew, ES).

Commenting on the agreement, the European Commission said that it welcomes the political agreement on the ReFuelEU Aviation proposal, reached by the European Parliament and the Council.

This political agreement is a turning point for European aviation, putting it on a solid pathway toward decarbonization. Shifting to sustainable aviation fuels will improve our energy security while reducing reliance on fossil fuel imports. These kinds of measures help make Europe a front-runner in the production of innovative clean fuels, globally. We estimate that the SAF market will create more than 200 000 additional jobs in the EU, mainly in the renewables sector, said Adina Vălean, Commissioner for Transport.

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