May 17. 2021. 5:14

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Green jet fuel for all flights, expanding the ETS, and defending the internal combustion engine



The EU executive hinted this week that the upcoming requirement to use green jet fuels will apply to all flights departing from EU airports – regardless of whether the destination is inside the bloc – a statement likely to enrage some airlines and delight others.

Low-cost carriers, such as Ryanair and easyJet, have pushed for all airlines to be subject to the sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) blending mandate, on environmental and fairness grounds.

Legacy airlines, however, have argued that imposing a SAF mandate on flights travelling outside of the EU will make European aviation less competitive and encourage companies to refuel outside of the bloc.

The Commission seems to have a plan to make these arguments moot, however. Rather than imposing a mandate on individual airlines, it will require fuel at EU airports to contain a certain percentage of SAF. That way, all aircraft will refuel with SAF, regardless of where they’re off to.

All will become clear once the ReFuelEU Aviation proposal is published, which EU transport commissioner Adina Vălean said will happen “before summer”. In the meantime, read more about the statements by Filip Cornelis, director of aviation with the European Commission’s transport directorate, below.

Welcome to the Emission Trading System

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the EU’s Emission Trading System – the EU-wide carbon market – will be expanded to include transport and buildings. The move is part of the EU’s drive to go carbon neutral by 2050 and is expected to be part of the June package of legislation.

“We will make emission trading work not only for energy generation and industry but also for transport and for buildings,” von der Leyen told a virtual climate change summit hosted by the US government.

“Carbon must have its price, because nature cannot pay the price any longer.”

Even the EU’s climate chief Frans Timmermans said he was against adding road transport to the ETS, as the increase in fuel prices may hurt the poor.

With such consequences in mind, it is widely expected that a new, separate system will be set up for transport and buildings, one with a different CO2 price.

Is the EU too fixated on electric vehicles?

German manufacturer Bosch thinks so. It accused the EU of favouring electric vehicles over other technologies that could help to green transport, such as synthetic fuels, the Financial Times reports.

Bosch argues that advances in the efficiency of the internal combustion engine mean it still has a role to play in a low-carbon future.

“When Kennedy announced the ambitious goal of putting a man on the moon, he left it up to engineers to decide how to achieve it. The European Commission is running the risk of doing the reverse. With their policy, which in effect amounts to a technology monopoly, the moon landing would not have succeeded. Potential paths to climate action are currently being cut off,” Bosch board member Stefan Hartung was quoted as saying in the FT.

One company that doesn’t appear to be on board with Bosch is Honda. The Japanese car manufacturer announced that it will aim for 100% electric cars by 2040.

“I believe it is the responsibility of an automaker to achieve our carbon-free goal on a ‘tank-to-wheel’ basis,” Honda chief executive Toshihiro Mibe said, as reported by Reuters.

Vaccine passports not yet cleared for use

Europe’s vaccination drive appears to finally be stabilising, but the EU’s digital health pass still faces serious challenges.

While tourism-reliant countries push for a fast roll-out, northern states are sceptical that a quick launch can be achieved.

Questions remain on key issues, such as whether antibody tests prove immunity. Issues of privacy also cast a shadow over the discussions (read more below).

Airlines and airports are additionally putting pressure on the EU to have the digital health pass up and running as soon as possible.

Aviation bodies A4E, ACI EUROPE, and ERA sent a joint letter to the European Council calling on member states to take “all actions needed from a technical, administrative and legal point of view to be able to effectively start issuing Digital Green Certificates by June at the latest.”

Recycling rockets

SpaceX, the Elon Musk-founded space transportation company, launched a crew to the International Space Station on Friday (23 April), the third time the company has done so. The three-man crew included a European astronaut – Thomas Pesquet of France (who said, with typical Gallic flair, that he plans on bringing a taste of French cuisine to his crewmates aboard the space station).

The crew will travel to the space station using reused space vehicles – a key innovation and cost-saving measure of the company.


A roundup of the most captivating transport news.

EU considers applying green jet fuel mandate to all departing flights

The European Commission has confirmed that the upcoming ReFuelEU Aviation initiative will impose a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) blending mandate, with the EU executive suggesting it will apply to all flights taking off from European airports, regardless of whether their destination is inside the bloc.

Viable plan or security hazard? Europe embraces digital health pass

As Europe races to set up a digital health pass scheme to save the holiday season from the pandemic, technical and political obstacles are showing just how big a challenge the world faces in building such systems, people involved in the effort say.

EU carbon market will be extended to buildings and transport, von der Leyen confirms

Europe will apply its emissions trading scheme to buildings and transport, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a summit of world leaders on Thursday (22 April), setting the stage for the EU’s planned overhaul of its carbon market.

Electrify key highways to accelerate shift to battery-powered trucks: report

Modest investment in charging infrastructure along major European motorways could herald a shift to long-haul electric road freight, according to a new report by the green NGO Transport & Environment (T&E).

Fuelling a European recovery: Time to end aviation fuel tax exemption

For years, EU countries have allowed airlines to avoid paying tax on polluting jet fuels. With the climate crisis escalating, it’s time for the EU to put an end to this tax exemption, write Green MEPs Ciarán Cuffe, Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg, Claude Gruffat, and Tilly Metz.