Climate change: Ryanair signs sustainable fuel deal to cut emissions from its Amsterdam flights

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Budget airline Ryanair hopes to cut pollution from some of its Amsterdam flights by 60% through using sustainable aviation fuel.

From this month, one third of the roughly 1,500 flights a year that Ryanair operates from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport will be powered using 40% sustainable fuel derived from used cooking oil.

Current regulations restrict the amount of sustainable fuel that can be used in an aircraft to 50%.

Using a waste product like used cooking oil means fossil fuels that would have been used can stay in the ground, but these waste residues are a finite resource, environmentalists warn.

Ryanair Holdings - the parent company of Buzz, Lauda, Malta Air & Ryanair DAC - operates more than 2,400 flights a day from 82 airports, and already uses some form of sustainable fuel in flights from France, Sweden and Norway.

Ryanair's sustainability director Thomas Fowler said sustainable fuel is a "cornerstone" of its strategy to reach net zero emissions by 2050 - a widely adopted global goal to cut emissions as much as possible and in theory offset only the emissions that cannot be cut.

Flying accounts for around 2.5% of all global emissions of carbon dioxide, a climate-heating greenhouse gas. Most jets are powered by kerosene, derived from the fossil fuel petroleum.

Fuel from waste residue such as cooking oil is the more environmentally friendly of various biofuels, because the product would not otherwise be used elsewhere, according to campaign group Transport and Environment.

Nor, in theory, does it create competition for land with food or people in the same way as plants that are grown to create other biofuels.

"There's only so many waste and residues in the world. You don't have an unlimited amount of them," said the aviation policy officer Matteo Mirolo.

"With used cooking oil demand set to double between now and 2030, we have strong concerns about fake imports," he said, citing incidences of virgin palm oil and other unsustainable feedstocks being disguised as used coking oil and ending up in aircraft engines.

If UCO isn't really "used," it will "fuel deforestation instead of decarbonising aviation," he warned.

Ramping up verification and monitoring and keeping demand in check would help, he added.

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