70% of jet fuel at EU airports must be green by 2050

The European Parliament on Wednesday gave its approval to a law to increase the use of sustainable fuels, such as advanced biofuels or hydrogen, in the aviation sector.

RefuelEU aviation standards are part of the ‘Target 55’ package, the EU’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and ensure climate neutrality in 2050. The new regulations seek to promote the use of sustainable fuels in the aviation sector to reduce emissions.

Application calendar

MEPs managed to get the text to oblige EU airports and fuel suppliers to ensure that, from 2025, at least 2% of aviation fuels are green. This percentage must increase every five years: 6% in 2030, 20% in 2035, 34% in 2040, 42% in 2045 and 70% in 2050. In addition, a proportion of the total (1.2% in 2030, 2% in 2032, 5% in 2035, reaching 35% in 2050) must include synthetic fuels such as electronic kerosene.

What fuels are green?

Under the new rules, the term “sustainable aviation fuels” will include synthetic fuels, certain biofuels produced from agricultural or forestry waste, algae, biowaste, used cooking oil or certain animal fats.

MEPs managed to exclude crop-based fuels for feed and food and fuels derived from palm and soy materials, as they do not meet sustainability criteria. They also managed to include renewable hydrogen as part of a sustainable fuel mix, a promising technology that could progressively contribute to the decarbonization of air transport.

New flight etiquette

To promote decarbonisation in the aviation sector and to better inform the public, from 2025 there will be an EU label to assess the environmental performance of flights. Airlines will be able to market their flights with a label indicating the estimated carbon footprint per passenger and the estimated CO2 efficiency per kilometre. It will allow passengers to compare the environmental performance of flights operated by different companies on the same route.

Speaker’s statement

José Ramón Bauzá (Renew, Spain), stated: «This is a great step towards the decarbonization of aviation. It is time for EU governments to implement the new rules and support the industry to ensure the cost-effective deployment of sustainable aviation fuels across Europe, as well as meeting EU targets. There is no time to lose. In a complex and competitive world, I fully believe that ReFuelEU is a great opportunity to position the European Union as a world leader in the production and use of sustainable fuels in aviation.

Next steps

The text, already agreed with the Council, was supported by 518 MEPs, 97 voted against and eight abstained. Once the Council formally adopts it, it will apply from January 1, 2024 – some provisions, from January 1, 2025.