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European Union agrees binding green fuel targets for aviation

European Union agrees binding green fuel targets for aviation

European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Jun 5, 2020. (File photo: Reuters/Yves Herman)

BRUSSELS: The European Union has agreed on a deal to set binding targets for airlines in Europe to increase their use of sustainable aviation fuels, in an attempt to kickstart a market for green fuels and start curbing the aviation sector's carbon footprint.

After late-night talks, negotiators from the European Parliament and EU member states struck the deal just before midnight on Tuesday (Apr 25).

The proposal aims to increase both demand for and supply of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), which have net-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions or lower CO2 emissions than fossil fuel kerosene. For now, these fuels are produced in tiny quantities and are far more expensive than conventional aviation fuels.

Fuel suppliers must ensure that 2 per cent of fuel made available at EU airports is SAF in 2025, rising to 6 per cent in 2030, 20 per cent in 2035 and gradually to 70 per cent in 2050.

From 2030, 1.2 per cent of fuels must also be synthetic fuels, rising to 35 per cent in 2050. Synthetic fuels are made using captured CO2 emissions, which proponents say balances out the CO2 released when the fuel is combusted in an engine.

Aviation is seen as one of the hardest sectors to decarbonise, with zero-emission aircraft not expected for more than a decade. Sustainable fuel is seen as a route to start gradually reducing air travel's carbon footprint in the near term.

A spokesperson for Air France-KLM said the airline was planning to overshoot the EU targets, and had set itself a goal of 10 per cent SAF use by 2030.

Airlines are set to receive about 2 billion euros (US$2.21 billion) in funding from the EU carbon market to help them switch to SAF.

Biofuels can count towards the main SAF targets if they comply with EU sustainability criteria. Low-carbon hydrogen produced from nuclear power is also eligible - a win for countries like France with large shares of atomic power.

Campaign group Transport & Environment criticised the inclusion of some biofuels, including animal fats that it said could cause shortages in other industries, such as pet food production.

EU countries and the EU Parliament must each approve the deal before it can pass into law. That process is usually a formality that sees pre-agreed deals go through with no changes.

Source: Reuters/cm


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