(Adds details from White House and United announcements,
environmental research group)
Sept 9 (Reuters) - The White House on Thursday said it is
targeting 20% lower aviation emissions by 2030, as airlines
facing pressure from environmental groups to lower their carbon
footprint pledged to use more sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
The push to accelerate carbon cutting is part of President
Joe Biden's target of making the United States net carbon
neutral by 2050.
It comes as the United States and Europe are trying to boost
production of SAF, which is now made in miniscule quantities
from feedstocks such as used cooking oil, and can be two to five
times more expensive than standard jet fuel.
Biden said he is seeking a SAF tax credit as part of the
$3.5 trillion reconciliation bill being pushed by congressional
Democrats, a move the industry says is necessary to offset the
higher costs of production.
Announcements from the White House and U.S. carriers
confirmed Reuters reports that Biden officials were eying a
target date of 2050 for weaning aircraft off fossil fuels, along
with airline support for a voluntary target of 3 billion gallons
of SAF in 2030.
Three federal departments are launching a government
challenge to supply at least 3 billion gallons of SAF per year
by 2030 and ample SAF by 2050 "to meet 100% of aviation fuel
demand, currently projected to be around 35 billion gallons a
year," a White House fact sheet said.
Global aviation has faced calls by environmental groups for
curbs to air travel amid growing pressure on airlines to cut
Biden's administration is taking a different approach than
Europe, where regulators are seeking to force suppliers to blend
rising amounts of SAF into their kerosene.
"It is essentially an aspirational goal," said Dan
Rutherford, aviation director at the International Council on
Clean Transportation, an environmental research group based in
United Airlines also announced on Thursday a record
purchase agreement for 1.5 billion gallons of SAF over 20 years
from Alder Fuels, under certain conditions, starting in 2025.
Alder Fuels Chief Executive Bryan Sherbacow said the size of
the deal with United is doable because the fuels will be
produced from forest and crop waste, which are less expensive
than fats, used oils and grease which are in short supply.
"The big thing is expanding supply in addition to fat, oil
and grease," said Sherbacow, who left his position a few weeks
ago as Chief Commercial Officer of World Energy to launch Alder.
"That enables scalability, that enables more cost
competitiveness," added Sherbacow, who remains a senior advisor
to World Energy, the largest U.S. SAF producer.
Both United and Honeywell made equity investments in
Alder, he said.
(Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal, David Shepardson and
Jarrett Renshaw in Washington; Editing by Mark Porter and Diane