Global airlines target Europe's green fuel mandates

Airlines took aim at Europe over green fuel mandates and its failures to stem France's air traffic control strikes at a global airlines meeting in Istanbul on Monday. European regulators have introduced a new mandate demanding airlines use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), an alternative to jet fuel that produces fewer carbon emissions but is between two to four times more expensive than its traditional alternative. 


Officials lambasted Europe for introducing a mandate, arguing that a global approach to increasing SAF production or tax incentives like those introduced by the United States under the Inflation Reduction Act would be more effective. EU officials have said they are also helping to support the industry in its green transition through credits and other benefits and that the timelines for the mandates were reasonable. In 2021, the body released its strategy to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, including a progressive increase in sustainable aviation fuel use.


Officials have called for a global system that would allow airlines to buy SAF for others to use, even if they don't fuel up their own planes with it. However, the EU's approach could cause more fragmentation and confusion by forcing airlines to buy SAF in Europe. Activists in Europe have also argued that solutions such as sustainable aviation fuel and more efficient engines will not be sufficient in helping the industry reach its targets, with many cheering a French ban on some short-haul routes as a step in the right direction. 


IATA economist Marie Owen Thomsen said that if we agree that we need aviation and we need to do this sustainably, then our focus should be on getting those solutions (like SAF and efficient engines) as fast as possible. Last month, Qatar Airways CEO Mr. Akbar Al-Baker argued that the 2050 net-zero goal is beyond reach. 

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