Authorities at Irish and EU level will need to mitigate the expense to consumers that will inevitably come with the decarbonisation of the aviation sector, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Speaking following a meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport, Senator Regina Doherty said: “Our Government has set out a decarbonisation pathway trajectory to achieving our net-zero National Climate Objective by 2050.
“While 2050 might not seem like that long away, we will face challenges in maintaining affordability and competitiveness in the aviation sector as we begin to introduce sustainable fuels.
“We are in the infancy stages of deploying ‘Sustainable Aviation Fuel’ (SAF), which is projected to contribute to around 65% of the reduction in emissions needed by aviation to reach net-zero. It can be produced from a number of sources including green and municipal waste and non-food crops.
“However, according to an aviation study carried out by ReFuelEU, Europe is going to need at least 100 new SAF production plants by the time this policy really accelerates in the mid-2030s. Until production capacity is achieved, fuel costs for airlines will increase, which has real potential to drive up travel costs for consumers.
“When I questioned Minister Jack Chambers at Committee today, I asked whether we can be assured that there will be supports available for those consumers during that period. It’s really disappointing that neither Ireland nor the EU seem able to commit to those supports.
“We can’t have a situation where we’re penalising people for taking a holiday abroad, nor can we penalise the aviation industry itself over something that is out of its control. We need to approach this issue with a carrot, as opposed to a stick.
“We have ambition when it comes to climate action, but we need to ensure that this crucial sector of Ireland’s economy has a viable, competitive future.
“While Minister Chambers has established a working group within his Department to explore the future production of SAF in Ireland, a just transition means leaving nobody behind in the period before we reach production capacity.
“That is why I am calling on our Government, and the European Commission, to examine price supports for consumers to protect them from the price increases that are projected to arise from the decarbonisation of aviation in the next decade”, concluded Senator Doherty.