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Home » Brazil, China, Feedstocks, Field Crops, India, Opinions, Policy, Sustainability

Decarbonizing Transportation to Meet Climate Goals

Submitted by on August 4, 2017 – 3:34 pmNo Comment

by Leticia Phillips (Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association, UNICA/Ethanol Producer Magazine)  As nations around the world begin implementing their Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement, decarbonizing transportation becomes increasingly important in limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

The scale of the challenge is clear. The transport sector currently contributes 23 percent of energy-related emissions worldwide, and 18 percent of human-generated, economy-wide emissions.

The transport sector is among the most difficult and expensive to decarbonize, but we must strive to expand biofuel supply and demand to limit global warming to safe levels.

The world is responding with action to ensure a clean transportation future, while driving economic growth. Brazil’s NDC aims to reduce emissions 37 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 by increasing biofuels to approximately 18 percent of its overall energy mix by 2030, but it’s not alone. More than 61 percent of all NDCs submitted to the Paris Agreement propose specific transport sector emissions-reduction measures. 

100 countries around the world, many of them developing nations, already grow sugarcane.

The U.S. EPA has certified sugarcane ethanol as 90 percent cleaner than conventional gasoline on a full life-cycle basis. This finding has repeatedly been confirmed by life-cycle analyses worldwide.

But biofuels’ decarbonization potential isn’t limited to ethanol, and production is diversifying into new clean fuels. Some commercial biofuel technologies can reach virtually zero emissions, and new production techniques could make second-generation ethanol and cellulosic biofuels emissions-negative in the near future. Since cellulose is the most common organic compound found on Earth, turning it into renewable energy is critical to switching away from petroleum-based fuel.

Biofuels represented the second-highest amount of green jobs worldwide in the International Renewable Energy Agency’s Annual Review 2017, with 1.7 million jobs (and 1 million in the sugarcane sector) out of 9.8 million globally. Even better, many of these jobs are concentrated in feedstock supply led by developing nations like Brazil, China and India.

Reducing emissions from electricity generation is an important first step to slowing climate change, but meeting global decarbonization goals requires cutting transport emissions. Biofuels—particularly sugarcane ethanol—are arguably the cheapest and most sustainable option available to replace fossil fuels in transportation. READ MORE

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