The EBAA has welcomed the final agreement on RefuelEU 2021/0205, voted in the European Parliament plenary. The agreement marks the first-ever sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) mandate in the EU, but noticeably lacks a Book & Claim system.
The European business aviation industry has committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 as laid out in the Business Aviation Commitment on Climate Change (BACCC) of 2009. The use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) forms a crucial element towards reaching the climate targets set out in the commitment, and the industry has since championed the more sustainable use of fuels. Therefore, EBAA warmly welcomes the approval of the European Parliament on the initiative, setting out a roadmap towards increased SAF uptake across the board in the EU.
To ensure a level playing field between aerospace users and to help overcome logistical and geographical constraints, the EBAA has advocated throughout the negotiations for the inclusion of a Book & Claim system based on the SAF flexibility mechanism. EBAA's position has remained unchanged due to the limited development of SAF infrastructure, the connectivity of smaller airports and the geographical spread of SAF across Europe.
A Book & Claim system can:
- Allow operators to purchase SAF even if it is not available at their refuelling location.
- Provide customers with a means of supporting aviation decarbonisation.
- Attract financing into the SAF system that might not otherwise be available.
- Support the virtuous cycle of increasing SAF availability and demand.
Regrettably, the final agreement does not include such a system. Also, an included threshold for 'Union airports' at 800,000 passengers/year poses serious challenges for business aviation, particularly with limited SAF availability at small airports. EBAA is concerned that due to these elements, business aviation operators will face considerable challenges to meet decarbonisation objectives.
Thus, EBAA is urging European legislators to reconsider the critical importance of the SAF flexibility mechanism in future revisions of the legislation and agree on a common set of criteria to make such a mechanism a standard across the EU.
While it understands the challenges of increased SAF and synthetic fuel use, the EBAA is calling for a ramp-up of SAF production and proposes that the revenues generated by the already agreed Emissions Trading System (ETS) for aviation should be earmarked to help manufacturers develop hybrid, electric and hydrogen-powered engines.
After the European Parliament's approval, the member states will also formally endorse the regulation, before it is published in the EU's official journal and enters into force.