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The European Union (EU)’s axing of the jet fuel tax will drive airlines to use cleaner, low carbon fuels, according to clean transport campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E).

Announced as part of the EU’s ‘Fit for 55’ plan, the tax reforms would, however, only apply to fuel used on private and commercial flights within Europe, exempting 60% of fuel sales, the T&E statement said.

The package also strengthened Europe's carbon market for aviation and set a mandate for the use of e-kerosene that would apply to all jet fuel sales in Europe – a crucial step in decarbonising long-haul flying, T&E said.

“Axing jet fuel’s tax exemption in Europe is a vital step towards ending decades of subsidised pollution, which even included fuel for private jets. But by not removing the tax exemption for flights outside of the EU, it still lets the majority off the hook,” T&E aviation director Andrew Murphy said.

Reforms to Europe’s carbon market, known as EU ETS, were running alongside the fossil jet fuel tax, according to the report. This should drive up the price of credits, and bring forward the date by when emissions must reach zero, T&E said.

In the long term, it was the sustainable fuels regulation, ReFuelEU, that could have the biggest impact, according to T&E. From 2030, jet fuel sold in Europe would have to, alongside advanced biofuels, include a growing mix of e-kerosene - a fuel that T&E says could be vital in decarbonising aviation.

ReFuelEU would set aside existing and planned national mandates, many of which currently relied on unsustainable crop-based biofuels, T&E said.

"The aviation industry will be required to start using greener fuels on all European routes, which unlike the other proposals includes the long-haul flights that cause the most emissions,” Murphy said.

“Setting a sub target for e-kerosene is crucial as it is the only green fuel with the potential to be scaled up to meet the sector’s demands. However, that target should be set even higher to really drive down emissions from flying.”