In a significant move toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have given their approval to new legislation aimed at increasing the use of sustainable jet fuels in the EU. This legislation is part of the broader “Fit for 55 package,” which seeks to reduce emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and make the EU climate-neutral by 2050. The focus is on encouraging the aviation sector to adopt eco-friendly fuels to curb emissions.
AMBITIOUS TIMELINE FOR INCREASING SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUELS
MEPs have set an ambitious timeline for the adoption of sustainable aviation fuels. Starting from 2025, EU airports and fuel suppliers will be required to ensure that at least 2% of aviation fuels are green. This percentage will increase every five years, reaching 6% in 2030, 20% in 2035, 34% in 2040, 42% in 2045, and an impressive 70% by 2050. Additionally, a specific portion of the fuel mix, including 1.2% in 2030, 2% in 2032, 5% in 2035, and eventually reaching 35% in 2050, must consist of synthetic fuels like e-kerosene.
DEFINING “GREEN” AVIATION FUELS UNDER NEW RULES
Under these new regulations, the term “sustainable aviation fuels” encompasses a range of eco-friendly options. This includes synthetic fuels, certain bio fuels made from agricultural or forestry residues, algae, bio-waste, used cooking oil, and specific animal fats. Additionally, recycled jet fuels produced from waste gases and waste plastic are considered “green.” Notably, fuels derived from feed and food crops, palm, and soy materials are not classified as green, as they do not meet sustainability criteria. Renewable hydrogen has also been included as part of a sustainable fuel mix, offering a promising avenue for decarbonising air transport.
INTRODUCING AN EU ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE LABEL FOR FLIGHTS
In a bid to promote environmentally-conscious choices in the aviation sector and provide transparency to the public, MEPs have mandated the introduction of an EU label for the environmental performance of flights. Starting in 2025, airlines will be able to display this label on their flights, indicating the expected carbon footprint per passenger and the anticipated CO2 efficiency per kilometre. This initiative empowers passengers to make informed decisions by comparing the environmental impact of flights operated by different companies on the same route.
José Ramón Bauzá Díaz, the rapporteur for the Parliament, expressed the significance of this step towards decarbonising aviation. He emphasized the importance of EU governments implementing these new rules to support the industry in deploying Sustainable Aviation Fuels across Europe while meeting EU targets. Díaz sees this as an opportunity for the EU to position itself as a global leader in sustainable aviation fuel production and usage.
The legislation regarding sustainable aviation fuels received overwhelming support, with 518 votes in favour, 97 against, and eight abstentions. Once approved by the Council, these rules will come into effect on January 1, 2024, with certain provisions taking effect on January 1, 2025.