LONDON – On Thursday, the European parliament voted to support the European Commission’s ReFuelEU Aviation to raise the mixture percentage of sustainable fuel (SAF) for all flights departing from the European Union by 2025.
This is a major milestone for the aviation industry going green.
With great news, the parliament did however amend the European Commission texts tabled by the Transport and Tourism Committee a while ago. It wasn’t an easy task for parliament to endorse such legislation.
The amendments to the European Commission’s draft legislation forced the bill to become more ambitious than previously stated, including higher mixture percentage levels of SAF, a higher sub-mandate for synthetic fuels, and the possibility to establish a flexibility mechanism.
This comes with a book-and-claim system, to ensure fuel suppliers will provide an accurate supply of aircraft SAF on point, and also provide SAF as efficiently as possible. This will ensure accuracy during the fuelling process, and will avoid unnecessary burden on operations of small airports across the bloc.
Initially, before the scrutiny of the bill by elected European parliament members, the original proposal from the Commission on the minimum share mixture of SAF was to rise from 5 per cent in 2030, 32 per cent in 2040, and 63 per cent for 2050. It was changed to 6 per cent, 37 per cent, and 85 per cent respectively.
After the amendments by elected officials, the mixture blending will be moved to 2025, with a SAF minimum share of 2 per cent. Overall, the parliament wants to see 50 per cent of SAF mixture in 2050.
It is also important to note that the parliament forbids the national government to increase higher mixture mandates, as this would skew and undermine the bloc’s parliament legitimacy.
The SAF itself, the parliament has outlined, could be a mixture of biofuels derived from animal fats, or a mixture from the waste of processing gas and exhaust gas during the production process of ‘industrial installations’.
In addition, the parliament has taken extra steps to ensure the SAF initiative is self-sustaining. The bloc proposed a Sustainable Aviation Fund from 2023 to 2050, to fast-track the decarbonisation of the industry, and to aid investment in technologies of SAF-related technologies, including powertrains and research.
Søren Gade, one of the EP stated that: “Aviation is one of the hardest sectors to decarbonize. Today we showed how to do this and sent a strong and ambitious signal to the citizens of Europe.”
In light of what MEP Gade said, the bloc is also committed to creating a performance tracking system to ensure all parties are complying with environmental standards by 2024. This will be applied to all aircraft types, airlines and every commercial flight will be monitored by the new benchmark.