How will EU air pollution regulations affect the aviation industry? 

Recent EU regulations aimed at reducing pollution caused by the aviation industry could start to affect how the industry operates, according to a study by the Clean Aviation Joint Undertaking. 

The research was carried out alongside McKinsey & Company and found that the recent regulations could make kerosene the most expensive fuel for aircraft in the near future.

It also found that kerosene will be approximately the same price as liquid hydrogen – a cleaner fuel for aircraft currently under development – by the year 2030. 

Additionally, the price of synthetic fuels is predicted to drop in the next few years, as they will be mandated by EU regulations and this will increase supply and availability. 

Burning kerosene for fuel pumps large amounts of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere, making it a leading cause of global warming. 

The report predicts that changes to EU regulations and taxation could increase the price of kerosene to $300 per MWh by 2050 – six times higher than the current price. 

By 2050, the report predicts that the price of synthetic fuels, also known as e-fuels or power-to-liquid, will fall to less than $250 and liquid hydrogen to reduce to around $50. These changes would remove the current advantages of using kerosene for air travel. 

Changes to EU laws 

The EU has introduced a number of legislative changes to reach emissions targets. These have mostly been aimed at increasing the costs of using polluting fuels. 

For example, the ReFuelEU law means that, when refueling at EU airports, aircraft are required to use a fixed percentage of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) when using kerosene. 

Lawmakers in the European Parliament are also considering a phase-out of free carbon allowances and making airlines pay more for carbon emissions by taxing kerosene. Plus, under the plans, kerosene used in intra-EU flights would lose its tax-exempt status.

Alongside these measures, the EU has set aside €1.7 billion in funding for the Clean Aviation joint undertaking, which researches cleaner aircraft technology. 

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