A greener future for flying is in sight as the EU today approves a new law that will boost the use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) in Europe. In the first international agreement of its kind, most planes flying in the EU will be subject to minimum levels of SAF usage from 2025. These targets begin with 2% SAF use from 2025, and rise to 6% by 2030, 20% by 2035 and 70% by 2050 (as a percentage of total fuel used).In a win for Greens/EFA co-negotiator Ciarán Cuffe MEP, the EU will also take action on the non-CO2 effects of flying, which can triple the warming impact of aviation on the planet. These effects are caused by the burning of aromatic and sulphur content in jet fuel, which form the white contrails that we see stretching across our skylines. The EU will begin monitoring the levels of this content in jet fuel, and the Commission must come forward with measures to optimise the levels of this content in plane fuels by 2027.
MEP Cuffe said:
“For decades, airlines have been polluting for free, with no incentives to decarbonise. Sustained industry pressure to quash measures that challenge their polluting business model means that greening aviation is so much harder today. This new law, however, marks an important point of departure from the industry’s reliance on fossil fuels.
“While we have taken important steps with ReFuel, I know that we can and should accelerate the timelines. In particular, I’m calling on the Commission to propose concrete measures to tackle non-C02 effects by early 2025, not 2027. The science is clear: this is doable now, and we have no time to lose.
“In the meantime, we still have a long way to go before flying becomes a more sustainable travel option. That’s why we must simultaneously help people to make greener choices, by delivering cheap, frequent, and reliable travel alternatives.”
MEP Cuffe also secured a ban on the use of palm-oil by-products and other damaging biofuels from counting towards the fuel use targets. These essential protections will limit the potential negative impact of this law on deforestation, land use and food security.
Earlier on Tuesday, the European Parliament also approved the Renewable Energy Directive, giving a massive boost to the energy transition: raising the EU target from 30% to a 42.5% share of renewable energies by the year 2030; and simplifying and shortening permit processing for renewable energy projects, storage and grid connections, with broad respect to existing environmental rules. Citizens and businesses will benefit from cheaper and more predictable energy prices, and it will be easier to produce and sell electricity back to the grid as a result.