The European Union (EU) has formally adopted the new Renewables Energy Directive – known as RED II – raising the 2030 target for the share of renewable energy in the EU’s overall energy consumption from 32% to 42.5%, S&P Global reported.

Member states now have 18 months to adopt the legislation, which sets sub-targets for transport and industry, the 9 October report said.

RED II’s adoption followed months of negotiations despite a general agreement in June following a vote in the Council when only Poland and Hungary were against it, S&P Global wrote.

“It is a step forward which will contribute to reach the EU’s climate targets in a fair, cost-effective and competitive way,” Teresa Ribera, the acting energy minister of Spain, which currently chairs the Council, was quoted as saying.

In the transport sector, member states can choose between a binding target of a 14.5% reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the use of renewables by 2030 or a binding share of 29% of renewables within final energy consumption in transport.

At the time of the report, renewables’ share of the transport sector was around 10%, a share that has changed little for a decade.

Advanced biofuels (generally derived from non-food-based feedstocks) had a new binding target of a 5.5% share and, within this target, there was a 1% minimum requirement for renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBOs) by 2030, the report said.

The Council of the European Union (EU) also adopted the ReFuelEU regulations – part of the bloc’s plan to cut GHG emissions – in a bid to boost EU sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) supply and demand, Biodiesel magazine reported.

Part of the Fit for 55 package – the EU’s plan to reduce GHG emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to a 1990 baseline and to reach net-zero by 2050 – the ReFuelEU regulations were adopted on 9 October, the report said.

“The new law will provide legal certainty to aircraft operators and fuel suppliers in Europe. By kick-starting the large-scale production of sustainable aviation fuels, it will soon make the EU’s aviation sector much greener. This is a key step in our broader effort to reach our climate targets at European and global level,” Spanish acting minister of transport, mobility and urban agenda Raquel Sánchez Jiménez Spanish said.

The new ReFuelEU aviation regulations would require EU airports and fuel suppliers to ensure that at least 2% of aviation fuels are “green” by 2025. The requirement would increase to 6% in 2030, 20% in 2035, 34% in 2040, 42% in 2045 and 70% in 2050.

As part of the rules, a proportion of the fuel mix should be comprised of synthetic fuels, such as e-kerosene, the 10 October report said. The requirement for synthetic fuels was set at 1.2% in 2030, 2% in 2032, 5% in 2035 progressing to 35% in 2050.

The ReFuelEU rules define SAF to include synthetic fuels, certain biofuels produced from agricultural or forestry residues, algae, bio-waste, used cooking oil or specific animal fats. Recycled jet fuels produced from waste gasses and waste plastic are also considered “green”.

In addition, renewable hydrogen is an eligible fuel under the programme.

However, SAF produced from feed and food crop-based feedstocks, including palm and soya materials, are not included in the programme.

According to information released by the European Parliament, these crop-based biofuels cannot be classified as “green” under the ReFuelEU initiative as they do not meet sustainability criteria.

In addition to setting SAF mandates, the ReFuelEU initiative also created a new flight labelling programme, Biodiesel magazine wrote.

From 2025, there would be an EU label for flight performance. Airlines would be able to market their flights with a label indicating the expected carbon footprint/passenger and the expected CO2 efficiency/km.

The labelling programme would help passengers compare the environmental performance of flights operated by different companies on the same route, the report said.

Development of the initiative has been ongoing for more than a year and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) adopted draft rules for ReFuelEU in July 2022.

A political agreement on the ReFuelEU proposal was reached by the European Parliament in April and MEPs European Parliament (MEPs) approved the regulations on 13 September.

Following formal adoption by the Council of the EU, the new regulations would come into force on the twentieth day following publication in the EU’s official journal and take effect on 1 January 2024.

However, some elements of the new regulations – including the labelling requirement – would apply from 1 January 2025.