Biofuels are better than their reputation – sustainability is verifiable

“The EU has established a functioning sustainability certification system for biofuels. On this solid ground aviation can now increase the use of renewable fuels, as well”, says Dr. Christoph Jeßberger of the Munich-based think tank Bauhaus Luftfahrt, who is head of aireg’s working group on Sustainability.

aireg, the German aviation initiative for renewable energy has investigated how the sustainability of biofuels can be reliably verified. Certification, which is mandatory for all biofuels used in the EU, is a suitable indicator. Using an proprietary set of criteria that incorporates latest scientific findings, aireg has compared the ten most relevant certification systems for aviation. By doing so, the initiative wants to contribute to more transparency and informed consumer behavior. The certification systems themselves shall have an incentive to integrate related issues into the scope of inspection.

The criteria deemed necessary by aireg contain ecological aspects, like the improvement of soil quality and the conservation of water resources, as well as social issues like the adherence to existing land use rights and the involvement of local stakeholders. Differences occur as a result of the growing number of certification systems, which evolved from the minimum requirements set by the EU Renewable Energy Directive.

aireg‘s assessment concluded that four certification systems are particularly commendable (in alphabetic order):

  • International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC EU)
  • Netherlands Technical Agreement (NTA 8080)
  • Roundtable of Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB EU RED)
  • Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO-RED)

aireg will check regularly if and how certification systems update their set of criteria.

However, aireg emphasizes that truly sustainable agriculture is only possible, if all biomass cultivation is certified, no matter where it ends up, be it in a fuel tank, a feeding through or on a dinner table.

Further information:

  • Background paper on the aireg benchmarking
  • aireg set of sustainability criteria
  • aireg brochure “sustainability of alternative aviation fuels”


The statements made by aireg do not necessarily reflect the opinion of individual member organizations.