The European Commission has announced a political agreement on the ReFuelEU Aviation proposal between the European Parliament and the Council. Once in place, the new rules will help decarbonise the aviation sector by requiring fuel suppliers to blend sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) with kerosene in increasing amounts from 2025.
The deal marks the last agreement on the transport proposals within the ‘Fit for 55' package, as agreements on updated rules on emissions trading in the aviation sector and in the maritime sector, on promoting sustainable fuels for shipping, as well as on the accelerated deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure have already been reached.
This measure on its own is projected to reduce aircraft CO2 emissions by around two-thirds by 2050 compared to a ‘no action' scenario.
The new rules will require:
1) Aviation fuel suppliers to supply a minimum share of SAF at EU airports, starting at 2% of overall fuel supplied by 2025 and reaching 70% by 2050. The new EU jet fuel blend will need to contain a minimum share of the most modern and environmentally-friendly synthetic fuels, which increases over time.
2) Aircraft operators departing from EU airports to refuel only with the fuel necessary for the flight, to avoid emissions related to extra weight or carbon leakage caused by ‘tankering' practices (deliberately carrying excess fuel to avoid refuelling with SAF).
3) Airports to ensure that their fuelling infrastructure is available and fit for SAF distribution.
The blending mandate covers biofuels, recycled carbon fuels and synthetic aviation fuels (e-fuels) in line with the Renewable Energy Directive, but excludes food and feed crops, supporting sustainability objectives. Since it will apply throughout the EU, the new mandate will ensure a level playing field within the EU internal market, provide legal certainty to fuel producers and help kick-start large-scale production across the continent. It will also increase the EU's energy security by reducing dependencies on third-country sourced energy products and create thousands of new jobs in the energy sector. The EU's airlines will have access to increasing amounts of sustainable aviation fuel throughout the EU.
The political agreement requires formal adoption by the Parliament and the Council. Once this process is completed, the new legislation will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and enter into force with immediate effect.
This agreement is an important step towards the implementation of the Commission's ‘Fit for 55' legislative package, and will help achieve the EU's climate ambitions under the European Green Deal.
Aviation emissions in Europe increased an average of 5% year-on-year between 2013 and 2019. While dropping dramatically during the pandemic, aviation emissions are still projected to grow further. The increased climate ambition of the aviation sector will be crucial for the EU to reach its climate objectives under the Paris Agreement and make the European Green Deal a reality.
To achieve climate neutrality, the EU needs to reduce transport emissions by 90% by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels). RefuelEU Aviation will help the aviation sector contribute to achieving that target, together with the revised rules on the EU Emissions Trading System in the aviation sector.