The European Union has taken the lead in climate policy action among the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters with a raft of ambitious plans designed to cut emissions drastically over the next decade.
A dozen draft proposals, which still need to be approved by the bloc's 27 member states and the EU parliament, were announced on Wednesday.
The policies, if approved, would put the bloc - the world's third-largest economy - on track to meet its 2030 goal of reducing planet-warming emissions by 55% from 1990 levels.
The "Fit for 55" package will face months of negotiations between the 27 EU countries and the European Parliament.
One proposal would be to tax polluting jet fuel for the first time and give low-carbon aviation fuels a 10-year tax holiday.
A revamp of the EU carbon market is also expected to hike CO2 costs for industry, power plants and airlines, and force ships to pay for their pollution.
This is the third time since 2009 the European Commission has tried to get Renewable Energy Directive (RED) right.
With ‘Fit for 55’, the Commission finally realises that to succeed it needs to focus on higher GHG intensity reduction targets that drive renewable energy in transport, without multipliers that hide the EU’s continued reliance on fossil fuels.
Now that sustainability issues have been settled, the EU will be looking to unleash the potential of crop-based biofuels and encourage the wider deployment of advanced biofuels.
According to ePURE with the main components of the ‘Fit for 55’ package in place, the Commission should fully maximise the tools it has on hand for decarbonisation – especially RED.
“Fully enabling biofuels in the drive to carbon-neutrality is just common sense,” said Emmanuel Desplechin, Secretary-General of ePURE, the European renewable ethanol association. “Even under a scenario in which electric vehicles make rapid gains in market share and the sale of internal combustion engines is phased out, the EU car fleet will consist predominantly of vehicles that run fully or partly on liquid fuel in 2030 and beyond. For these petrol and hybrid cars, renewable ethanol is the most cost-effective and socially inclusive way to reduce emissions. Europe cannot afford to ignore this important part of the equation.”
Other major economies including China and the US – the world's top two emitters - have committed to achieving net zero emissions, which scientists say the world must reach by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change.
But the EU is the first to overhaul its legislation to drive greener choices within this decade among the bloc's 25 million businesses and nearly half a billion people.
"Everybody has a target. But translating it into policies that lead to real emission reductions, that's the most difficult part," said Jos Delbeke, a former senior policymaker who developed some of the EU's flagship climate policies.
By 2019, the EU had cut its emissions by 24% from 1990 levels.
Popular News Stories
LATEST VIDEOHow sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is making its way in the aviation sector