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MEPs vote for world-first maritime RFNBO target, higher GHG cuts

European MPs voted Wednesday to adopt the world's first targets for renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBOs) for the maritime sector and GHG emission reduction targets in excess of Commission proposals at 80% by 2050.


MEPs said that 2% of energy on vessels covered by the draft law should be from RFNBOs by 2030, introducing an entirely new target compared to the initial proposal and bringing them into line with member states who also wanted greater support.


RFNBOs are renewable fuels made without any using biomass and include green hydrogen which uses renewable electricity, as well as other e-fuels and fuels made fossil wastes.


The move fell short of the 6% target lobbied for by industry group Hydrogen Europe though, which also questioned an exemption for companies operating three or fewer vessels up to 2035 which it said would let 60% of all shipping firms off the hook.


It also placed the FuelEUMaritime at loggerheads with the also under discussion Renewable Energy Directive recast, said Hydrogen Europe.


"This decision is not aligned with what was agreed in the September plenary vote for the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II), in which MEPs voted for 1.2% of all RFNBOs produced to be directed to maritime transport. This percentage is far higher than the 2% agreed and even the 6% proposed in FuelEU Maritime."


Review


With RFNBO production still in its nascent stages and concerns raised by some member states over the potential cost, the parliament text said the Commission should review the supply and price of RFNBOs in 2028 with a view to potentially reducing or increasing the sub-target.


RFNBOs GHG savings would also be double counted towards GHG reduction targets between 2025 and 2034, which would help to meet MEPs' proposal for higher overall cuts.


The parliament adopted text agreed the proposed 2% GHG cut in maritime by 2025 and 6% by 2030, but increased the 2035 target to 20% from the Commission's 13%, the 2040 target to 38% from 26% and the 2050 target to 80% from 75%.


The reduction targets would apply for all vessels with gross tonnage above 5,000 mt, covering 90% of all shipping overall, and for all intra-EU trips and 50% of energy used on voyages only starting or ending in the EU.


Lobby group Transport & Environment said the higher GHG targets would cut the amount of fossil LNG used, after concerns were raised earlier in the year that the combination of GHG targets and including maritime in the Emissions Trading System could lock in LNG as the main fuel for decades.


"This will shorten the lifetime of LNG as a compliance option, but it will not be enough to stop shipping’s worrying shift to LNG...however...it does signal that there is no long-term future for fossil LNG in shipping," said T&E.


The European Parliament will now enter trialogue discussions with member states and the Commission to finalise the legislation.


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