Biden presents plan for cleaner jet fuel. But how clean would it be?

When asked to comment, the EPA and the Department of Energy referred questions to the White House, which did not respond. Concerns highl...


When asked to comment, the EPA and the Department of Energy referred questions to the White House, which did not respond.

Concerns highlight the difficulty of cleaning up an industry which is under increasing pressure to tackle its emissions. Aviation currently accounts for about 3-4% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions – it is by far the most energy-intensive form of transportation – and although planes have become more efficient, demand is growing. of thefts has exceeded this progress.

Lauren Riley, general manager of global environmental affairs and sustainability at United Airlines, said the airline is looking for a more promising source of sustainable fuel: forest waste, like fallen branches or leaves and stems left behind by crops. On Thursday, the airline, working with industrial giant Honeywell, announced a joint multi-million dollar investment in a company that is developing a way to produce aviation fuel from forestry and agricultural waste on a large scale.

“These are really exciting times for aviation,” Ms. Riley said in an interview. She added that while she thought the goal set by the Biden administration was ambitious, “we have an absolute chance to meet or even exceed” those goals. However, full accounting of the environmental effects of forest waste use or harvesting is yet to come.

Concerns like these highlight how the EPA must oversee the development of sustainable fuels to ensure airlines use low-emission fuels, experts say. The companies are working on another promising group of fuels, called electrofuels, which are produced from a combination of hydrogen generated from renewable electricity and captured carbon.

And to ensure airlines embrace these low-emission biofuels, which are likely to be more expensive than jet fuel at the moment, the government needs to set mandates, not voluntary targets, experts say. The European Union is now moving forward with a sustainable aircraft fuel mandate, coupled with strict restrictions on the types of biofuels the industry should use.

But even improvements in energy efficiency are unlikely to offset the growth in air transport. Environmental groups have called on governments to require airlines to disclose emission estimates for individual flights, so consumers can make a more informed choice about which airlines to fly or which flights to take. Others have called for an end to frequent flyer programs, which they say encourage theft.

Finlay Asher, a former aircraft engine designer at Rolls-Royce who now advocates for more aggressive climate action from the aviation industry, said if airlines had spent years pledging to cut emissions through new technologies, like more sustainable fuels, “it has happened. We have to try something else,” he said. “Really, we have to do less flights.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Biden presents plan for cleaner jet fuel. But how clean would it be?
Biden presents plan for cleaner jet fuel. But how clean would it be?
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