European aviation groups have called for an EU-wide mandate on the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), ahead of key negotiations over how emissions from air travel will be cut across the continent.
The Fit for 55 package will determine how the EU turns its climate goals into law, including its commitment to cut emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030. This will be the subject of talks between the European Commission, European Parliament and EU Council in the coming months.
The key elements for air travel are the ReFuelEU proposal, which would oblige airlines to increase their use of SAF at EU airports (known as the blending mandate), and a potential overhaul of the existing EU ETS (Emissions Trading System), which has already been beset by political divisions.
In a joint letter to EU negotiators, Airlines for Europe (A4E), airports’ association ACI Europe, air navigation body CANSO Europe and ERA (European Regions Airline Association) called for “several adjustments” to the current proposals for RefuelEU and EU ETS.
“We believe that the proposed policies can be further refined by including appropriate remedies to mitigate against the risk of having Europe and its citizens affected by downgraded air connectivity, while remaining uncompromising on the acceleration of the decarbonisation ambition,” stressed the organisations in their letter.
They are calling for several changes, including the introduction of a European-wide mandate for SAF to “supersede national mandates and harmonise all relevant legislation to avoid fragmentation of the single aviation market in Europe”.
“National SAF mandates would lead to competitive distortion within the single market, and create problems of availability and accessibility hampering the uptake of SAF in Europe,” the aviation groups argued.
They also want “further incentivisation and financial support” for the use of SAF through free allowances within EU ETS to help “bridge the price gap” between kerosene and sustainable fuels.
“For it to be successful, the mechanism should increase overall SAF uptake across Europe and incentivise going beyond the blending mandate, in turn reducing more CO2 emissions from the sector,” the groups argued.
Other demands include providing a “strict definition” of SAF and creating a regime “similar to a book and claim system” to ensure a reliable and cost-effective supply of sustainable fuel.
A book and claim system would allow airlines to claim the full use of all SAF without having to physically supply the fuel at every airport they operate from in the EU.
Earlier this year, Lufthansa Group and Germany’s major hub airports warned that the EU’s current climate protection package would be a “disadvantage” for European aviation.