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European Commission revises energy directive for aviation

GENEVA: November 30, 2016. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is working with the European Commission on reviving the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) to prioritize sustainable aviation fuel.

IATA says the air transport industry has no other option but to continue operating with carbon-based fuel while promoting sustainable fuel policies that boost supply and therefore reduce costs.

KLM powered by biofuelMichael Gill, IATA director, Aviation Environment said reviving RED will enable Europe to become the leader in renewable energy: "Aviation is on a path towards carbon-neutral growth and ultimately to reduce emissions in half. Policies to incentivize the production of such fuels have been successful in the United States and elsewhere. Europe has an opportunity to take the lead in sustainable fuel production if the revised RED contains the right measures."

He went on to comment that the current challenge with sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) is to boost supply and cut costs, and the RED must strengthen its policy framework to encourage production of SAF.

Gill pointed out that airlines want to ensure any alternative fuels do not threaten biodiversity, food production, or clean water resources. "We are ready and willing to invest in these fuels and the revision of the RED offers a unique opportunity for Europe to demonstrate what can be achieved when policy-makers and industry combine for a genuinely coordinated approach to climate action and business innovation," he concluded.

Despite significant growth of SAF fuels since 2009, EU transport is still 94 percent reliant on fossil fuel to power cars, trucks, ships and planes. In addition to obligating European transport fuel suppliers to provide an increasing share of renewable and low-carbon fuels, the new EU RED now includes an incentive to provide advanced aviation fuels where the renewable energy content is over 20 percent.

In October, nations representing 85 percent of all international flights agreed at the International Civil Aviation Organization to implement a carbon offset and reduction scheme.

IATA says the industry's longer-term target is to reduce CO2 emissions to 50 percent of 2005 levels through changes in technology, operations, infrastructure and the use of sustainable aviation fuels.

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