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Transport members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have set ambitious targets for more sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) to help the EU achieve climate neutrality by 2050, according to a statement from the European Parliament.

A total of 85% of aviation fuel should be sustainable by 2050, MEPS said, with a gradual switch to alternatives to conventional fuel such as synthetic fuel and used cooking oil (UCO).

Space should also be allowed for electricity and hydrogen to be part of the new fuel mix, the 27 June statement said, with aircraft operators encouraged to include infrastructure for hydrogen refuelling and electric recharging.

MEPs on the Transport and Tourism Committee adopted a draft negotiating mandate on the ReFuelEU aviation rules by 25 votes to six and three abstentions on 27 June, the draft said.

In the draft, the MEPs amended the proposed definition of SAF – a term that currently covers synthetic fuels or certain biofuels produced from agricultural or forestry residues, algae, bio-waste or UCO – to include recyclable carbon fuels produced from waste processing gas and exhaust gas deriving from production process in industrial installations.

MEPS also proposed that some biofuels, produced from animal fats or distillates, should be used in the aviation fuel mix for a limited time (until 2034), the statement said.

However, MEPs excluded feed and food crop-based fuels from the revised definition of SAF, and those derived from palm oil and soyabeans, and soap stock and its derivatives, as they did not meet proposed sustainability criteria.

MEPs increased the European Commission’s (EC) original proposal for the minimum share of SAF that should be made available at EU airports, with a 2% share from 2025, increasing to 37% in 2040 and 85% by 2050, taking into account the potential of electricity and hydrogen in the overall fuel mix (proposed at 32% and 63% respectively).

Transport MEPs also proposed the creation of a Sustainable Aviation Fund from 2023 to 2050 to accelerate the decarbonisation of the aviation sector and support investment in SAFs, innovative aircraft propulsion technologies, or research for new engines, the statement said.

Following approval of the draft by the whole European Parliament, MEPs would begin talks with EU governments on the final details of the legislation.

Civil aviation currently accounts for 13.4% of total CO2 emissions from EU transport.

The ReFuelEU Aviation initiative is part of the ‘Fit for 55 in 2030’ initiative, which is the EU’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.