European Union: Parliament Advocates Green Aviation Fuels

In the European Union, civil aviation accounts for 13.4 percent of total CO2 emissions from transport. According to the European Parliament, used cooking oil, recycled carbon fuels, synthetic fuel or hydrogen should gradually become the norm as aviation fuel to help the EU become climate neutral by 2050.

In July this year, the Members of the Parliament (MEPs) adopted a new draft EU rules to increase the uptake of sustainable fuels by EU planes and airports to cut emissions from aviation. In doing so, they increased the EU Commission’s original proposal for the minimum share of a sustainable aviation fuel that should be made available at EU airports. From 2025, this share should be two percent, increasing to 37 percent in 2040 and 85 percent by 2050, “taking into account the potential of electricity and hydrogen in the overall fuel mix”, a press release said. The European Commission had proposed 32 percent for 2040 and 63 percent for 2050.

More types of sustainable fuel
As reported, the Parliament amended the proposed definition of sustainable aviation fuel, a term that covers synthetic fuels or certain biofuels, produced from agricultural or forestry residues, algae, bio-waste or used cooking oil. The politicians “included under their definition recycled carbon fuels produced from waste processing gas, and exhaust gas deriving from production process in industrial installations,” the Parliament gave account. “They also suggested some biofuels, produced from animal fats or distillates, could be included in the aviation fuel mix for a limited time (until 2034). However, MEPs excluded feed and food crop-based fuels, and those derived from palm oil, soy-derived materials and soap stock, because they do not align with the proposed sustainability criteria.”

It is planned that also renewable electricity and hydrogen as part of a sustainable fuel mix will be included, “as both are promising technologies that could progressively contribute to the decarbonization of air transport”. According to the draft rules, EU airports should facilitate the access of aircraft operators to sustainable aviation fuels, including infrastructure for hydrogen refueling and electric recharging.

Part of the European Union’s “Fit for 55 in 2030 package” is the ReFuelEU Aviation initiative, the EU’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, in line with the European Climate Law.

New fund and green labeling
“Parliament proposed the creation of a Sustainable Aviation Fund from 2023 to 2050 to accelerate the decarbonization of the aviation sector and support investment in sustainable aviation fuels, innovative aircraft propulsion technologies, and research for new engines,” the information said. “The Fund would be supplemented by penalties generated by the enforcement of these rules.”

To further promote the decarbonization of the aviation sector and to inform the public about greener aviation, MEPs tasked the Commission with developing by 2024 an EU labeling system on the environmental performance of aircrafts, operators and commercial flights.

As stated, the Parliament is now ready to start negotiations with member states.

(Published in GLOBAL RECYCLING Magazine 3/2022, Page 4, Photo: Erich Westendarp /