The EU has agreed rules requiring airlines to start using green aviation fuels from 2025 as it steps up plans to lower emissions from one of the bloc’s most polluting sectors.
All aircraft fuel at EU airports will have to be blended with sustainable aviation fuels, starting at a minimum share of 2 per cent in 2025 and rising every five years to 70 per cent by 2050.
The landmark rules are part of the EU’s ambitious climate change legislation, which aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 55 per cent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels and be carbon-neutral by 2050.
Sustainable aviation fuels covered by the rules include biofuels, recycled carbon fuels and synthetic fuels, such as e-kerosene, which is produced using captured CO₂ and hydrogen. Specific targets were set for those synthetic fuels, which have to be included from 2030. Fuels made from food and feed crops such as soy are excluded.
The rules aim to kick-start the production of sustainable fuels for aircraft in Europe, which at present are only produced in small quantities. Airports will be required to provide the necessary infrastructure for refuelling with sustainable fuels.
Matteo Mirolo, aviation manager from the green group Transport & Environment, said the deal would “provide airlines with the certainty that synthetic kerosene will become cheaper and widely available”.
In addition, aircraft leaving from EU airports will only be allowed to refuel with the volumes necessary to complete their flight, to prevent attempts to circumvent the sustainability requirements.
According to the European Commission, aviation emissions are growing faster than emissions from most other sectors. Emissions from aviation rose 5 per cent year on year between 2013 and 2019 before a temporary decline during the pandemic, the commission said, and were projected to grow further.
The new measures are expected to reduce aircraft carbon emissions by about two-thirds by 2050. This comes on top of other transport legislation, such as the requirement for the sector to pay for carbon emissions under the EU’s emissions trading scheme.
“These kinds of measures help make Europe a frontrunner in the production of innovative clean fuels, globally,” said Adina Vălean, European commissioner for transport.
“The ramp-up of sustainable aviation fuels can now start,” said Mirolo, adding, however, that more work was needed, including on industrial support policies for synthetic kerosene.
The deal struck by the EU parliament and the member states late on Tuesday still needs to be formally approved by both institutions.