The European aviation industry has welcomed the adoption of the ReFuelEU regulation, which aims to increase the use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) in the EU.
The regulation, which was approved by the European Parliament on Wednesday, requires EU airports and fuel suppliers to ensure that at least 2 percent of aviation fuels are green by 2025, with this share increasing to 70 percent by 2050.
The European aviation industry has long been a major emitter of greenhouse gases, and the ReFuelEU Regulation is seen as a key step towards decarbonizing the sector.
“This is a tremendous step towards the decarbonization of aviation,” said José Ramón Bauzá Díaz, the Parliament’s rapporteur for the ReFuelEU Regulation. “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.”
The new regulation also includes a definition of SAFs, which are fuels that have a significantly lower carbon footprint than conventional jet fuel. SAFs can be produced from a variety of feedstocks, including agricultural residues, waste gases, and used cooking oil.
Furthermore, a requirement for airlines to provide information to passengers about the environmental performance of their flights, which will be displayed on a new EU label for the environmental performance, is also expected to be implemented.
The ReFuelEU Regulation is part of the EU’s Fit for 55 package, a set of measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030. The package also includes a regulation on carbon offsetting in aviation, which will allow airlines to offset their emissions by investing in projects that reduce emissions elsewhere.
EU aviation associations call for more support for SAFs
The five leading European aviation associations (A4E, ACI EUROPE, ASD, CANSO Europe and ERA), close partners through the Destination 50 alliance, that welcomed the ReFuelEU regulation, also called for more support from the EU to scale up the production and use of SAFs.
“The international race to become a SAF leader has started,” said an alliance announcement. “The ReFuelEU Aviation Regulation should therefore be complemented with further incentives to scale up SAF production and uptake in Europe through their inclusion into the EU Net Zero Industry Act (NZIA) as part of the strategic net-zero technologies.”
In addition, Destination 50 underlined the need to secure political support for the net-zero future of aviation at a global level naming the November 2023 ICAO Conference on Aviation Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3), “a unique opportunity to put in place the right milestones and to deliver ambitious targets for SAF deployment worldwide.”
The Destination 2050 alliance was created in 2021 when Europe’s airlines, airports, civil aeronautics industry and air navigation service providers laid out a joint long-term vision along with concrete solutions to the complex challenge of reaching net-zero CO2 emissions from all flights departing the EU, UK and EFTA by 2050. The independent report called for a combination of actions from all stakeholders – including the EU and national governments – in four key areas could achieve substantial CO2 emissions reductions in line with EU climate goals.
These include: improvements in aircraft and engine technologies (including hybrid, electric and hydrogen propulsion), using sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) both for fixed- and rotary-wing platforms, implementing economic measures and improvements in air traffic management (ATM) and aircraft operations.