Debate on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in Europe

Held on 4th February, 2020 at EU Parliament in Brussels.

This past Tuesday, February 4, FGA were invited to attend a debate about ‘Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in the EU’. The event was hosted by the Airport Regions Council (ARC) and held at the EU Parliament Building in Brussels. The debate marked the final installation of a series of discussions that have taken place over the last year. The event was organised by the joint effort of the EU Commission, SENASA, ARC, Flightpath, and ARTFuels. Many important industry stakeholders were in attendance, including IATA, EUROCONTROL, KLM, and SkyNRG, just to name a few.

The meeting was an opportunity for DG representatives to highlight active projects that are strongly aligned with the EU’s recently announced new Green Deal. LeCompte, a member of DG MOVE, stated it is a high priority ‘to reduce emission transmissions’, but ‘not completely reduce the benefits of connectivity’ that aviation travel has provided Europeans. He mentioned that a ‘smart and sustainable strategy’ will be coming online later this year, which will include initiatives for alternative fuel, both production and supply. Though, the focus of the debate was SAF, there was acknowledgement that other transport modes are in demand of alternative fuels as well, namely road and rail. In addition, there was reference to a few upcoming SAF refinement plants and suppliers, whose facilities should be going into construction in the near future, public announcements would be made by private and public entities later this year.

Two very interesting discussion points noted were: (1) Member States interest and request for blended mandates, many believe these are critical to push this initiative forward at a faster pace and to ensure more investor confidence in the industry, and (2) being mindful of the time it will take to scale-up other approved ASTM pathways, prior to enforcing mandates, so that no additional pressure and demand is placed on the HEFA pathway (which needs to be predominantly phased-out by 2030 per RED II).

Lastly, Robert Boyd, of IATA, posed the question to the group: does ‘CORSIA or RED II have more impact in the EU?’, to which he stated CORSIA, though a carbon-offsetting mandate, ‘accelerated airline awareness’. Which many would argue was an important step prior to unveiling RED II because CORSIA does require the aviation industry to monitor and report on their emissions yearly; the first step towards making data-driven strategic decarbonisation decisions. Raising awareness is a large portion of FGA’s mission because we believe SAF will have a crucial role to play in decarbonising the aviation industry and work on this has commenced, beginning with speaking to corporate travellers about its scope and potential for reducing emissions in the sector.

Overall, this information is very much in-line with what FGA has been focusing on as we continue to investigate the most sustainable ASTM pathways for creating SAF and helping to solve the funding strategies needed to make these pathways commercialised, thereby financially accessible for airlines. We hope you will stay connected with us as we continue to follow this discussion and closely monitor what measures are being taken in Brussels and around the EU.

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