Stay Grounded considers “EU 55” proposals to cut aviation CO2 too slow, too many loopholes
The EU Commission has published its Fit for 55 climate package, which includes some changes for aviation. The Stay Grounded network of 170 aviation campaigns organisations welcomes the plan to end the tax exemption for jet fuel, but condemns its slow introduction, the problematic exemption for cargo flights and the limitation to intra-EU flights. It also criticises the unambitious changes in the EU ETS and the adoption of CORSIA for extra-EU flights. A key problem is that flights to non-EU destinations would not be included in the kerosene tax. Member states can and should decide to tax cargo-only and extra-EU flights, but the sector has lobbied hard against any higher charges. The new EU proposal is to introduce a “tighter cap” on the number of free allowances European airlines get for flights within the EU, through the EU ETS. But leaving flights to destinations outside the EU to the CORSIA scheme is unhelpful, as the scheme is too weak to have any effect. The EU consider that sustainable aviation fuels should account for at least 5% of aviation fuels by 2030 and 63% by 2050, and of that synthetic fuels should contribute to at least 28% of the aviation fuel mix by 2050. Stay Grounded says this is ridiculous, as is placing too much reliance on “sustainable” jet fuels in future, with their likely environmental impacts and demand for electricity.
EU Fit for 55 Aviation Rules: Too Many Loopholes and Too Slow
Stay Grounded press release
EU’s Proposed End of Kerosene Tax Exemption Welcomed, but Lacks Ambition
Vienna/Brussels– Today, the EU Commission published its Fit for 55 climate package, which includes some changes for aviation. The Stay Grounded network welcomes the plan to end the tax exemption for jet fuel, but condemns its slow introduction, the problematic exemption for cargo flights and the limitation to intra-EU flights. It also criticizes the unambitious changes in the EU emissions trading scheme and the adoption of CORSIA for extra-EU flights.
“This package will not make Europe’s aviation sector fit for 55% emissions reductions by 2030! It’s important to finally get rid of the kerosene tax exemption, but the plan is not strong enough. The rollout over 10 years is way too slow! To stop flying straight into climate breakdown we have to fully tax aviation immediately,“ says Magdalena Heuwieser, spokesperson of Stay Grounded.
The network of 170 organisations says it is disappointing that flights to non-EU destinations would not be included in the kerosene tax. Stay Grounded especially criticizes that cargo-only flights are to be exempted from the kerosene tax. “However, member states can and should decide to tax cargo-only and extra-EU flights, too”, demands Heuwieser.
Cargo-only flights currently have an above-average market share of 10-11%. “This exemption is unacceptable. Freight companies like DHL, FedEx and UPS have lobbied strongly against a revised energy tax and a reduction of free allowances in the ETS”, adds Heuwieser. The aviation industry and freight lobby groups have been trying to divert attention from necessary climate measures by putting their communication focus on unlikely future technological fixes, as a newly published report shows. Resistance is rising against aviation’s climate impact. Just recently, last weekend, a climate action took place in Leipzig, Germany, against one of the biggest freight airports.
The EU proposal also includes a “tighter cap” on the number of free allowances European airlines get within the EU Emissions Trading System, and integrates the UN Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). “Free allowances for airlines must be eliminated immediately, we cannot wait until 2026. It is crazy to continue giving airlines free permits to pollute. Also, leaving extra-EU flights to the offsetting mechanism of CORSIA is a bad idea”, says Heuwieser.
“CORSIA does more harm than good to the climate. It is too broken to fix, and no more than greenwashing, designed to allow business as usual for decades to come. Scientific analyses show that emissions trading and offsetting will fail to effectively reduce aviation emissions. Instead of offering polluters the option to buy themselves out of the commitment to cut emissions, we need clear limits and to stop subsidies”, adds Heuwieser.
Stay Grounded also points out that the goal of only 5% alternative aviation fuels by 2030 is ridiculous, and rejects the use of biofuels which can lead to deforestation, human rights violations and even more emissions. Even by 2050, the current EU plan will allow the EU’s airlines to use one third conventional kerosene. “If we drastically reduce flights, it could be possible to achieve 100% renewable e-fuels sooner than 2050”, concludes Heuwieser.
Stay Grounded is a global network representing 170 member organisations, campaigning for a reduction of air traffic and a climate-just mobility system.
Magdalena Heuwieser, Stay Grounded
Phone: +43 650 3773 102
What is EU 55?
European Green Deal: Commission proposes transformation of EU economy and society to meet climate ambitions
“Today, the European Commission adopted a package of proposals to make the EU’s climate, energy, land use, transport and taxation policies fit for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Achieving these emission reductions in the next decade is crucial to Europe becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050 and making the European Green Deal a reality. With today’s proposals, the Commission is presenting the legislative tools to deliver on the targets agreed in the European Climate Law and fundamentally transform our economy and society for a fair, green and prosperous future.”
On transport and aviation this says:
“The EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) puts a price on carbon and lowers the cap on emissions from certain economic sectors every year. It has successfully brought down emissions from power generation and energy-intensive industries by 42.8% in the past 16 years. Today the Commission is proposing to lower the overall emission cap even further and increase its annual rate of reduction. The Commission is also proposing to phase out free emission allowances for aviation and align with the global Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) and to include shipping emissions for the first time in the EU ETS.”
“Aviation and maritime fuels cause significant pollution and also require dedicated action to complement emissions trading. The Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation requires that aircraft and ships have access to clean electricity supply in major ports and airports. The ReFuelEU Aviation Initiative will oblige fuel suppliers to blend increasing levels of sustainable aviation fuels in jet fuel taken on-board at EU airports, including synthetic low carbon fuels, known as e-fuels. ”
The European Green Deal, presented by the Commission on 11 December 2019, sets the goal of making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The European Climate Law, which enters into force this month, enshrines in binding legislation the EU’s commitment to climate neutrality and the intermediate target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.The EU’s commitment to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 was communicated to the UNFCCC in December 2020 as the EU’s contribution to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.”
ReFuelEU Aviation – sustainable aviation fuels
The Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on ensuring a level playing field for sustainable air transport
“While several sustainable aviation fuels pathways are certified to be used in aviation, their use is currently negligible, for lack of production at affordable cost. A blending mandate specifically targeting the aviation sector is necessary, in order to spur the market uptake of the most innovative and sustainable fuel technologies. This would allow to scale up production capacity and lower production costs over time. Given that sustainable aviation fuels should account for at least 5% of aviation fuels by 2030 and 63% by 2050, it is essential that the fuel technologies supported under this Regulation have the highest potential in terms of innovation, decarbonisation and availability. This is a sine qua non condition in order to meet future aviation demand and contribute to achieving the decarbonisation objectives.
“This should cover notably advanced biofuels and synthetic aviation fuels. In particular, synthetic aviation fuels have the potential to achieve emission savings as high as 85% or more compared to fossil aviation fuel. When produced from renewable electricity and carbon captured directly from the air, the potential emission savings compared to fossil aviation fuel can reach 100%.
“As such, synthetic aviation fuels have the highest potential for decarbonisation of all fuels considered under this initiative. Their production process is also particularly resource efficient, notably as regards the use of water, compared to the production of other sustainable aviation fuels pathways. While synthetic aviation fuels could contribute significantly to decarbonise the sector, its emergence on the market in sizeable volumes by 2030 is unlikely in the absence of dedicated policy support. Indeed, the production costs of synthetic aviation fuels are currently estimated at 3 to 6 times the current market price of fossil aviation fuel.
“As synthetic aviation fuels are expected to play a role in the decarbonisation of the sector already by 2030, and should contribute to at least 28% of the aviation fuel mix by 2050, it is therefore necessary for this Regulation to set out dedicated sub-obligation, pushing their introduction on the market. This is expected to partly de-risk investments in synthetic aviation fuels production capacity and allow the production capacity to scale-up. ”