E-fuels offer clean future for shipping and aviation, green groups tell EU

The EU should promote the use of green synthetic fuels, or e-fuels, by ships and planes as part of its upcoming maritime and aviation fuel laws, environmental groups have told the European Commission. The FuelEU Maritime and ReFuelEU initiatives will require ships carrying EU trade and aircraft fueling in Europe to progressively switch to sustainable alternative fuels. In a letter published today [1], 17 green organisations, including Transport & Environment (T&E) and Green Transition Denmark, say e-fuels offer enormous economic and employment opportunities.

Biofuels and natural gas, on the other hand, do not offer a sustainable alternative for shipping and should be excluded, the groups say. Support should also not be given to crop-based biofuels in planes, which would emit more than the fossil fuels they replace while there will not be enough advanced biofuels. Instead, lawmakers must send a clear signal to potential investors to focus on e-fuels made with additional renewable electricity and, whenever CO2 is required, direct air capture (DAC), the letter states. 

Delphine Gozillon, shipping policy officer at T&E, said: “E-fuels offer a clean future for the shipping and aviation sectors, but also the fuels industry. The EU must give them the investment certainty they need to flourish by requiring all ships carrying EU trade and aircraft fuelling in Europe to progressively make the switch.”

Promoting e-fuels can drive investment and create employment in areas such as hydrogen production, European shipbuilding and technology manufacturing, as well as energy transport infrastructure and R&D, the letter states. Europe’s renewable electricity potential is sufficient to meet demand from ships and planes, recent research shows, but Europe must make the right policy decisions in 2021 to incentivise the uptake of these green fuels.

Jeppe Juul, senior policy advisor at Green Transition Denmark, concluded: We must learn the lessons from Europe's bad experiences of the use of biofuels in transport. All crop-based biofuels must be excluded from the Commission’s policy proposals, and sustainable advanced biofuels should be reserved for aviation’s needs.

The European Commission will propose its FuelEU Maritime and ReFuelEU Aviation legislation in July. Shipping accounts for about 13% of greenhouse gas emissions from European transport. Globally, aviation is responsible for 5% of global warming.

Note to editors:

[1] The letter to the EU climate, transport, energy and trade commissioners was sent on 12 May 2021 and signed by: Transport & Environment, Carbon Market Watch, Bond Beter Leefmilieu, BirdLife International, PFPI, ZERO, Welthaus Graz, Zero Waste Europe, ECODES, Mighty Earth, FERN, Natuur & Milieu, Canopée Forêts Vivantes, Green Transition Denmark, Bellona Europa, Sciaena, and Generation Climate Europe.

Read more:

Letter: The EU should promote the use of e-fuels by ships and planes

Contact the press team

Eoin Bannon
Media Manager
+32 (0)487 717296 
eoin.bannon@transportenvironment.org

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