New rules requiring airlines to use more sustainable fuels across the European Union have been agreed by negotiators from member countries and the EU Parliament in a bid to help decarbonize the sector.
The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, said Wednesday that the deal reached by member states and the European Parliament demands that suppliers blend sustainable aviation fuels with kerosene in growing amounts from 2025.
The move is expected to reduce aircraft carbon emissions by two-thirds by 2050 compared to “a ‘no action’ scenario, and provide climate and air quality benefits by reducing non-CO2 emissions,” the Commission said.
The aviation sector accounts for 13.9% of transportation emissions in the EU, making it the second biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the sector after road transport, the Commission says. If global aviation were a country, it would rank in the top 10 emitters.
The political agreement is part of the EU ’s “Fit for 55” package, which sets a goal of cutting emissions of the gases that cause global warming by at least 55% by 2030.
The EU has also set a goal of reaching climate neutrality by 2050. It says it needs to cut transport emissions by 90% compared to 1990 levels to achieve this.
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“The EU is setting all sectors on a pathway to climate neutrality, with the measures necessary to meet our 2030 and 2050 climate targets,” said Frans Timmermans, the EU Commissioner in charge of the European Green Deal. “The EU is ready for take-off towards a more sustainable future for aviation.”
Despite a drop during the COVID-19 pandemic, emissions from the aviation sector are expected to continue growing. According to EU data, they increased “an average of 5% year-on-year between 2013 and 2019.”
Under the deal, at least 2% of all fuels supplied at airports from 2025 will need to be sustainable, with that share reaching 70% by mid-century.
“The new EU jet fuel blend will need to also contain a minimum share of the most modern and environmentally friendly synthetic fuels, which increases over time,” the Commission said.
The deal now only needs formal approval from EU lawmakers and member states to enter into force.