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Driving Europe’s sustainable mobility with low-carbon liquid fuels – leading experts discuss the need for a long-term European strategy on low-carbon liquid fuels

17 Mar 2021

Brussels, 17 March 2021. Messe Frankfurt held the second edition of its “Energy4Mobility Expert Talk” series, in cooperation with the Representation of the State of Hessen to the European Union, on 15 March 2021. On this occasion, policy, industry and research representatives shared their views on the question: “Should the EU launch a Low Carbon Liquid Fuels Strategy?” The speakers agreed that a long-term strategy for low-carbon liquid fuels is needed at EU level to design the required policy framework and unlock the full potential of these types of fuels to support the EU’s climate neutrality ambitions.

Michael Johannes, Vice-President Mobility and Logistics at Messe Frankfurt, explained that the expert talk series is open to all technologies and covers all types of climate-neutral drive energies, from hydrogen to electricity, through biofuels and synthetically produced fuels, as “each and every alternative drive system has a role to play in helping Europe reach its climate targets.” Adina Vălean, European Commissioner for Transport, introduced the European Commission’s plans for establishing a long-term regulatory framework for aviation and maritime fuels. She pointed out: “Low-carbon liquid fuels will certainly play an important role for cutting aviation and maritime emissions by 2030.” Jan-Christoph Oetjen, Member of the European Parliament, called for a low-carbon liquid fuels strategy that embraces a well-to-wheel approach, whereby carbon emissions are assessed throughout a fuel’s full life cycle. This would help “ramp up production and use of low-carbon liquid fuels in the road transport sector, with a view to use them later on in those sectors which are more difficult to decarbonise." John Cooper, Director-General at FuelsEurope, stated: “While there is no single technology which will address the challenge of decarbonising the entire transport sector, renewable and low-carbon liquid fuels represent a complementary, no-regret solution, across land, air and sea. A long-term European strategy would help drive demand for low-carbon liquid fuels in all three transport sectors.”

Low-carbon liquid fuels are sustainable fuel alternatives from non-petroleum origin. They can contribute to reaching carbon neutrality, as no or very limited CO2 emissions are released during their production and use. Time is nonetheless of the essence in fleshing out the strategic way forward for low-carbon liquid fuels in Europe, with demonstration at scale required in this decade for these fuels to deliver the greenhouse gas emissions reductions needed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

First blended with conventional fuels, low-carbon liquid fuels have the potential to progressively replace traditional fuels, alongside other innovative mobility solutions, such as electrification, hydrogen and further emerging technologies. However, unlike some alternatives, low-carbon liquid fuels largely rely on already available infrastructure, and do not require the replacement of the existing vehicle fleet. Ultimately, by providing a further valuable choice next to other low-carbon technologies, these types of fuels are also making sustainable mobility options available for a wider group of consumers.

Additional quotes:

Bernhard Dietrich (Director Centre of Competence for Climate and Noise Protection in Aviation (CENA)): “Going forward we need a smart, market-oriented strategy on low-carbon liquid fuels for the aviation sector, which includes a clear phase-out of fossil kerosene and creates demand by providing incentives to invest in e-fuels.“

Dörte Schramm (EU Governmental Relations, Robert Bosch GmbH): “E-fuels will not slow down electrification of transport. As such, we need incentives, notably in passenger car regulation, to spur the uptake of e-fuels where there is no credible alternative.”

Prof. Thomas Koch (Institute Director, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie): "European policy for road transport has become really focused on replacing the internal combustion engine, whereas in fact, decarbonising transport is about replacing fossil fuels. This distinction is key if we do not want to lose credibility."

Laurianne Krid (Director General Region I, Fédération International de l’Automobile (FIA)): “Low-carbon liquid fuels could play a role in the transition, but they are currently hampered by their scarcity and their cost. Should they be made available to consumers easily and in an affordable way, they should definitely have a role to play in the medium term."

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Background information on Messe Frankfurt

Messe Frankfurt is the world’s largest trade fair, congress and event organiser with its own exhibition grounds. The Messe Frankfurt Group employs around 2,500* people in a total of 30 subsidiaries. The company generated annual sales of approximately €250* million in 2020, following sales of €738 million in 2019. Even in difficult times caused by the coronavirus pandemic, we are globally networked with our industry sectors. We have close ties with our industry sectors and serve our customers’ business interests efficiently within the framework of our Fairs & Events, Locations and Services business fields. One of the Group’s key USPs is its closely knit global sales network, which extends throughout the world. Our comprehensive range of services – both onsite and online – ensures that customers worldwide enjoy consistently high quality and flexibility when planning, organising and running their events. We are expanding our digital expertise with new business models. The wide range of services includes renting exhibition grounds, trade fair construction and marketing, personnel and food services. Headquartered in Frankfurt am Main, the company is owned by the City of Frankfurt (60 percent) and the State of Hesse (40 percent).

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* preliminary figures 2020