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UK government sets up sustainability guidelines for SAF usage

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The UK government revealed the Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) will align its measurement of the environmental credentials of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) with  sustainability rules that underpin the UK's biofuels policy until 2025.
The UK ETS Authority confirmed airlines that wanted to claim a related emissions reduction under the scheme using SAF would have to ensure the fuels they used meet sustainability criteria set out by the existing Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO).
The Authority said the UK ETS would continue to align with the RTFO policy ahead of a proposed SAF mandate for airline operators coming into force in 2025. From that point, it would align with the sustainability criteria underpinning the new mandate.
"By aligning with existing and future UK SAF policy and sustainability standards, we can ensure that the SAF supplied to the UK and claimed under the UK ETS is truly sustainable, and that this can also be claimed under the RTFO, or the future SAF mandate when operational," the document states.
The government said it remained committed to updating the sustainability standards in its SAF policy as the nascent market grew, Business Green reported.
"The sustainability standards of the RTFO and the future SAF mandate, however, are constantly updated and take into consideration, among other factors, global sustainability developments," the consultation response notes. "We will review any future amendments and their applicability to aircraft operators under the UK ETS."
The update comes amid growing concern among some campaigners that the aviation sector's embrace of SAF to meet climate goals could drive deforestation and food insecurity if regulators and legislators fail to ensure the sector sources low carbon fuels from sustainable feedstocks that deliver genuine emissions savings, instead of relying on traditional energy crops which can have significant negative land use and emissions impacts.