Think Transportation GHG Emissions Targets Can Be Reached without Biofuels Mandates? Think Again.
by Gordon Quaiattini (Biofuels Digest) Governments serious about climate change should be wary about eliminating the mandate for renewable fuels, and those promising a low carbon fuel market without it.
Earlier this month Canada’s Environment Commissioner urged MPs to push the government from ‘seemingly endless planning mode into action mode’ on climate change. By now we all know the road to achieving meaningful GHG emission reductions from transportation isn’t easy: new infrastructure, clean technology, and changing consumer habits can be tricky business. But identifying and expanding existing policy options that are already proven to reduce GHGs should be a much simpler exercise. Or at least one would expect.
The federal government’s Renewable Fuels Regulation requires 5% renewable content in gasoline and 2% for diesel. Since 2006, this policy has been responsible for reducing GHGs from transportation by 4.2 million tons annually – or 1 million cars off the road every year.
Canada’s Renewable Fuel Regulation acknowledges ethanol as the only low-carbon, renewable fuel alternative for gasoline available at commercial scale and is the single best policy tool for reducing emissions through the increased use of lower carbon, renewable fuels. Axing it now, as the Government seeks to reach the most ambitious GHG reduction targets it has ever set, seems to defy logic.
Those who believe that the CFS can reach its objectives without complementary measures, like mandated requirements for biofuels, cite terms like “flexibility” and argue policy should set targets but “not dictate ways” targets are then reached. Even more often, they are representing the views of traditional oil and gas companies. This is problematic as, in the absence of biofuel mandates, traditional fossil fuel producers would have sole discretion over the content of fuels, carbon included.
Moreover, clean fuels targets envisioned as part of a broader strategy are almost undoubtedly unattainable without mid-to high-level blending of renewables into the fuel stream – something best achieved through policy, not only price. Internationally, governments that have coupled clean fuel standards with blending mandates have been successful in reducing GHGs from transportation, i.e., California. Those where required volumes were replaced with an intensity-based low-carbon fuel standard saw backsliding. In other words, GHG emissions increased in jurisdictions where biofuel mandates were eliminated.
Now is the time to maintain this mechanism, increase the Renewable Fuels Standard to E-10 and include pathways for greater use of higher ethanol blends – a proven policy to incent the use and production of low carbon fuel that will help reach Canada’s GHG targets and pave the way to meet our commitments with the Paris Accord. READ MORE