BRUSSELS – The European Union has agreed to an agreement that sets binding targets for airlines in Europe to increase the use of sustainable aviation fuels, in an effort to kick-start a green fuel market and start to limit the carbon footprint of the aviation industry.
After late-night talks, negotiators from the European Parliament and EU member states reached an agreement just before midnight on Tuesday.
The proposal aims to increase both demand and supply of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which has zero or lower CO2 emissions than fossil fuel kerosene. Currently, these fuels are produced in very small quantities and are much more expensive than conventional aviation fuels.
Fuel suppliers must ensure that 2% of the fuel available at EU airports is SAF by 2025, increasing to 6% by 2030, 20% by 2035 and gradually to 70% by 2050 .
From 2030, 1.2% of fuel must also be synthetic, increasing to 35% by 2050. Synthetic fuels are created using captured CO2 emissions, which advocates say will balance the amount of CO2 emitted when the fuel is burned in the engine.
Aviation is considered one of the hardest sectors to decarbonise, with zero-emissions aircraft not expected in more than a decade. Sustainable fuels are seen as a roadmap to begin to gradually reduce the carbon footprint of air travel in the near term.
An Air France-KLM spokesperson said the airline was planning to exceed EU targets and had set a target of using 10% SAF by 2030.
Airlines will receive around 2 billion euros in funding from the EU carbon market to help them transition to SAF.
Biofuels can be counted towards the main objectives of the SAF if they comply with the EU sustainability criteria. Low-carbon hydrogen produced from nuclear power also qualifies – a win for countries like France with most of its atomic energy.
Advocacy group Transport & Environment criticized the inclusion of some biofuels, including animal fats, which they said could cause shortages in other sectors, such as food production. for pets.
EU states and the EU Parliament must both approve the agreement before it can be passed into law. That process is usually one that shows that the pre-agreed transactions are done without any changes. (Additional reporting by Joanna Plucinska; editing by GV De Clercq and Robert Birsel)
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