UK Govt. Advisors “the UK has lost its clear global leadership position on climate action”: GMPB

Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Brief: UK Govt. Advisors “the UK has lost its clear global leadership position on climate action; EU-wide consumer groups launch complaint against 17 airlines for alleged greenwashing; TRAN Committee MEPs give ReFuelEU Aviation the greenlight.

UK Govt. Advisors “the UK has lost its clear global leadership position on climate action”. The UK’s Climate Change Committee (CCC), an independent statutory body established under the Climate Change Act 2008, has criticized the UK’s lack of progress on nearly every climate change front in its latest annual Report to Parliament. The report makes nine key messages, including the need for a sense of urgency in climate policies; the need for the UK to take an international leadership role; and a call for a framework to manage UK airport capacity. On surface transport, the report outlined that the sector remained the UK’s highest emitting, contributing to 23% (105 MtCO2e) of total UK emissions in 2022. The report also raised serious concerns about previous assumptions around the potential carbon savings brought by plug-in-hybrid (PHEV) cars, acknowledging that real-word savings are around three to five times lower than previously thought. The report also criticised the cost and availability of EV charging and claimed that “The Government has made no progress on our recommendations on clarifying the role for car demand reduction and ensuring that key enablers (road-building decisions and taxation) are aligned to delivering this”. On shipping, the CCC estimated that the UK’s plans regarding the UK’s first clean maritime cluster(s) operating at commercial scale (supplying at least 2 TWh/year of zero-carbon fuels) and shore-side electrification were both overdue.

EU-wide consumer groups launch complaint against 17 airlines for alleged greenwashing. Consumer rights organization BEUC and its member organizations across Europe have filed a complaint with the European Commission and the network of consumer protection authorities, highlighting misleading climate-related claims made by 17 European airlines. The complaint by BEUC has identified several misleading practices employed by European airlines, which are designed to give consumers the impression that flying is a sustainable and environmentally responsible choice. Statements and propositions by airlines with regards to carbon offsetting, sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), and any implications that air travel can be “sustainable”, “green”, or “responsible” are at the core of the BEUC’s complaint. Ursula Pachl, BEUC’s Deputy Director General of BEUC, commented: “When it is crystal clear that air travel causes a significant and increasing share of greenhouse gas emissions, it beggars belief that airlines freely lure consumers with climate-friendly messaging such as “CO2 compensated” or “CO2 neutral”. We urge authorities to take the matter into their hands and crack down on this greenwashing practice seriously misleading consumers.” In a statement published online, A4E, Europe’s largest aviation trade group, noted that “European airlines fully recognise the importance of transparent communications on sustainability and the entire industry is actively working towards reaching net zero by 2050 […] Strong sustainability criteria for offsets or carbon credits as for SAF are crucial for sector credibility and initiatives like CORSIA. In our climate strategy, we hold ambitious goals and actively seek to engage our customers in the conversation. We continuously learn and improve our sustainability communication, carefully reviewing all messaging to enhance transparency. We are dedicated to assessing what can be improved and made even more transparent to effectively communicate our efforts and progress in sustainability”.

TRAN Committee MEPs give ReFuelEU Aviation the greenlight. A provisional agreement on new rules for sustainable aviation fuels, known as the Refuel EU aviation rules, was approved by the TRAN Committee on Tuesday. These rules are part of the broader Fit for 55 package, which aims to promote the uptake of sustainable aviation fuels and ensure that the European Union (EU) becomes climate neutral by 2050. Under the agreement, EU airports and fuel suppliers will be obligated to make a minimum share of greener jet fuels available, starting from 2025. The initial target is set at 2% of aviation fuels, with the share increasing every five years. By 2030, the target will be 6%, followed by 20% in 2035, 34% in 2040, 42% in 2045, and finally, 70% in 2050. Additionally, a specific proportion of the fuel mix, ranging from 1.2% in 2030 to 35% in 2050, must consist of synthetic fuels like e-kerosene. In addition to the fuel requirements, MEPs also included provisions to inform the public about the environmental performance of flights. From 2025 onwards, an EU label for the environmental performance of flights will be introduced. Airlines will be able to market their flights with this label, providing information on the expected carbon footprint per passenger and the expected CO2 efficiency per kilometre. The deal on Refuel EU aviation rules was approved by the Transport and Tourism Committee by 35 votes to five. It now needs to be approved by the full House, possibly during the September plenary session in Strasbourg.