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EU strikes deal on aviation fuel targets

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 cut the aviation sector’s carbon footprint.

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

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

The proposal sets binding targets for aviation fuel suppliers to ensure that all fuel made available to aircraft operators at EU airports contains a minimum share of SAFs from 2025, with the target increasing to 2050.

At least 2 percent of aviation fuels must be SAF in 2025, rising to 6 percent in 2030, 20 percent in 2035 and increasing every five years to hit 70 percent in 2050.

We have a deal! After months of intense work, I am happy to conclude the Fit for 55 thanks to an important agreement on #ReFuelEU Aviation. We’ll boost the production and use of SAF across the EU while maintaining the sector’s competitiveness and the EU air connectivity.

— José Ramón Bauzá (@JRBauza) April 25, 2023
From 2030, binding targets will also apply to use a minimum share of synthetic fuels – 1.2 percent for 2030, rising to 35 percent in 2050. Synthetic fuels are made using captured CO2 emissions. Proponents say this balances out the CO2 released when the fuel is combusted in an engine.

Aviation is seen as one of the hardest sectors to decarbonize, with zero-emission aircraft not expected for over a decade. In the nearer term, sustainable fuel is one of the few options to reduce air travel’s carbon footprint.

Airlines are set to receive around EUR 2 bn in funding from the EU carbon market to help them switch to SAF.

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