Assessing sustainability standards and accounting for biojet fuels

Current legislation in several countries demands airlines to comply with biofuel sustainability criteria used in road transport, most prominently the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and the US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2). In this project, Ecofys has assessed the US and EU sustainability criteria to present a proposal for harmonising or mutually recognising differing international sustainability standards for biojet fuels.

Ecofys found that common voluntary metrics or even a meta-standard could define an obligatory minimum level of sustainability for all airlines, with key requirements like protection of biodiversity and greenhouse gas reduction. The work also provides an accounting system for reporting on the greenhouse gas saving effect of biojet fuels. As the biojet fuel will ultimately be distributed through a pipeline system at an airport, the green molecules cannot be tracked up to the aircraft tank.

A next step for developing a common sustainability standard would be a participatory process to define the ambition levels of sustainability for the aviation industry. Any voluntary scheme could be benchmarked against this standard. Each airline could then decide on using specific voluntary schemes that comply best with their own ambitions.