1 of 2 | European lawmakers agreed to a provisional arrangement that sets the minimum threshold for sustainable aviation fuels in the bloc. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
April 26 (UPI) -- Members of the European Union reached a deal Wednesday to ensure that aviation fuels come from sustainable resources.
The European Parliament and the European Council reached a provisional agreement that sets the minimum threshold for sustainable aviation fuels, requiring that at least 2% of the bloc's aviation fuel be sustainable by 2025, with the share increasing every five years until 70% is reached in 2050.
Transportation is the largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions and the airlines, along with other segments of the sector, are busy looking for alternative and cleaner fuels.
Those alternatives include synthetic blends, so-called biofuels derived from residual agricultural or forestry products and hydrogen. Fuels derived from food-based crops, however, do not meet the EU criteria for sustainability.
The agreement would also require aircraft operators leaving the EU to refuel "only with the fuel necessary for the flight" in order to avoid emissions associated with excess weight and carbon leakage caused by carrying extra fuel to avoid refueling with sustainable fuels.
Additionally, airports would be required to ensure their fueling structure is able to accommodate distribution of sustainable fuels.
The proposal now awaits formal adoption by the EU Parliament and Council.
The EU has already worked to clean up aviation. It signed a first-of-its-kind agreement last year with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to establish more streamlined rules for air transportation and freight.
The EU said the new arrangement replaced more than 140 bilateral air service agreements between the two blocs with one single set of rules.
"It also gives us a new platform to work jointly towards our shared commitment to economically, socially and environmentally sustainable aviation," Adina Valean, the EU's commissioner for transport, said at the time.
Airlines in particular are among the most difficult to decarbonize because of the lack of alternative fuels, but JetBlue said in December it would invest more in low-carbon and sustainable options to address its Scope 1 emissions, those coming directly from the company's operations, and Scope 3, those coming from up and down JetBlue's value chain.
Jose Ramon Bauza Diaz, a Spanish member of the European Parliament and a member of the bloc's Committee on Transport and Tourism, said Tuesday the package, part of the Fit for 55 slate of climate initiatives, shows that Europe is serious about its pursuit of a net-zero economy.
"With this regulation, the decarbonization of aviation becomes closer," he said.