Make Biofuels Part of Paris Agreement Implementation

Joanna Schroeder

History was made this week with the signing of the Paris Agreement climate accord by 130 countries at the UN Headquarters in New York. The governments now have one year to ratify the accord. The Paris Agreement will enter into force on the 30th day after the Paris-Agreement_Logo_EN_sizedate on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions have finalized their adoption of the accord. In response, the global biofuels community is calling on these countries to include biofuels as part of their greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Nearly a third of global GHGs come from the transportation sector making it a key area of focus in efforts to reduce emissions. Studies have shown that biofuels, like ethanol, are proven to reduce harmful GHGs from 40 percent to 90 percent compared to fossil fuels according to the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA).

GRFA logo“It is clear that the biofuels industry generally, and ethanol specifically, will continue to have a significant role to play in international efforts to transition away from carbon-intensive fossil fuels in the transport sector,” said Bliss Baker, GRFA spokesperson. “As countries look to take policy steps to reduce GHG emissions in their transport sectors, the GRFA will continue to provide technical support for the adoption of ethanol-supportive policies that will maximize the advantages of biofuel technologies.”

At the end of March, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to historic reductions in GHG emissions. President Obama pledged that the U.S. would cut its emissions by 26 percent by 2025 compared with 2005 levels. In turn, President Jinping promised that China’s emissions would peak by 2030 and fall after that, the first time China has agreed to any emission reduction targets.

However, as the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) points out, the U.S. did not include the roll biofuels would play in its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDCs), a plan submitted by each country outlining how it would meet emission reductions. So far 37 countries have included biofuels in these plans.

rfalogo1Multiple studies have shown that biofuels play a significant role in the reduction of GHG emissions. RFA states the use of ethanol in gasoline in 2015 reduced CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by 41.2 million metric tons — equivalent to removing 8.7 million cars from the road for an entire year. The organization also cites a November 2015 study from Life Cycle Associates that found, “The RFS2  [Renewable Fuel Standard]has resulted in significant GHG reductions, with cumulative CO2 savings of 354 million metric tonnes over the period of implementation.”

“It is beyond baffling that biofuels or the RFS were not included in the U.S.’ plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “The U.S. should be proud that it has the most progressive and effective transportation-focused carbon program in the world. As the U.S. signs the Paris Agreement, it needs to look no further than its own backyard and fully implement the most potent and proven weapon to combat climate change — the RFS.”

Biodiesel, biofuels, Climate Change, Environment, Ethanol, RFA, RFS