Ryanair has joined the new Fuelling Flight Initiative which is intended to provide recommendations on the sustainability aspects of the EU’s policy design to support Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF).

The airline joins KLM, Easyjet, Air France and the airlines of the International Airlines Group including Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia.

The Fuelling Flight initiative was convened by the European Climate Foundation (ECF) and ClimateWorks Foundation (CWF) with technical advice provided by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT).

The airlines as well as research organisations and environmental groups are calling for a more stringent policy approach to sustainability and the sector’s climate impact as the European Union plans to unveil new targets for SAF in 2021. One of the principal concerns is the ‘food versus fuel’ problem, namely that the increased use of biofuels should not be at the cost of land that could be used for food. The aim is to exclude biofuels produced from dedicated cropland and instead prioritize fuels made from wastes and residues.

As the statement says

“Biofuel use in the EU has… been dominated by biofuels with high sustainability risks, including very questionable carbon savings compared to fossil fuels, whose inclusion has been facilitated by inadequate sustainability guarantees in the directives concerned.”

“A concrete example is the ongoing controversy over competition with other uses of land, such as production of food and feed for livestock or carbon sequestration by allowing reforestation. Putting this controversy to rest is crucial and can only be achieved by a regulatory framework which is transparent, future proof, and has a set of robust criteria for the sustainability and climate impacts of feedstocks and pathways. Future policy support should only go to fuels with high carbon reductions compared to fossil fuels, meaning amongst other things that they do not use dedicated cropland.”

Pete Harrison, Executive Director for EU Policy at the European Climate Foundation, said,

“Europe must ensure that future policies only promote the most sustainable fuels for reducing the climate impact of aviation, and the EU needs to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.”

“The current Renewable Energy Directive does not ensure that fuels used in Europe meet the sustainability standards desired by civil society nor of leading airlines. In the Fueling Flight initiative, aviation companies, research organisations and environmental groups have now reached agreement on this important topic, and we propose shared guidelines on how to minimise environmental impacts. Policymakers should take this into consideration when defining a policy framework that is fair, affordable and meets the highest sustainability standards without compromise.”

Ryanair’s Director of Sustainability, Tom Fowler, said:

“We are delighted to join the ‘Fuelling Flight Initiative’. Sustainable Aviation Fuels are a key component of airlines’ efforts on the road to carbon-neutrality. A transparent and future-proof regulatory framework for SAFs can support and equip airlines in their fight against climate change, and we are proud to be part of this initiative.”