Multiple-Authorship blog platform on issues related to sugarcane cultivation and industrial applications
On 4 December 2014, the Environment Committee in the European Parliament held a public hearing on air quality and on national emissions beyond 2020. Emissions from road traffic were naturally discussed and the debate focused, as expected, on testing methods. The new test methodology to count for real-driving emissions should be introduced in EU legislation not earlier than 2017 and a representative from Daimler, explained that real driving test (World Light Duty Test Procedure) will require “massive” hardware changes for car manufacturers and a two-step approach to implement the changes at the manufacturing plants.
The bottom line is that real benefits in reducing carbon emissions from transport won’t be seen for approximately another 10 years.
In this context, my call for a more balanced approach to biofuels makes even more sense. Can the EU realistically only rely on car efficiency to decarbonise transport?
It’s true that great improvements have been made in vehicles’ emissions and that EU targets for 2015 have been met already in 2014, but all this is based on inaccurate measurements that do not reflect real driving conditions. In the meantime, biofuels are also under scrutiny and good performing biofuels such as sugarcane ethanol - which can definitely be part of the solution for a more sustainable transport system - are treated in the same way as less performing biofuels. Transport is left without any sound strategy to reduce its emissions!
Once again we encourage the Commission, which will facilitate second reading negotiations on ILUC, and the European Parliament and Member States, to pursue a more nuanced approach to biofuels and work towards a regulatory framework which promotes the best performing products and measures, such as bioethanol in transport and real driving test cycles for vehicles.
The advanced biofuels industry may get some answers tomorrow during a House Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care, and Entitlements hearing on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent decision to not finalize 2014 volume targets under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).
Janet McCabe, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation, is expected to be the sole witness and face questions about EPA’s delay on releasing RFS targets. Unfortunately, the hearing may also call the program itself into question. While several members of the subcommittee, including Chairman James Lankford (R – OK) have criticized the RFS as unworkable and urged its repeal, we hope the hearing sticks to the facts.
The RFS has worked for America, cutting both emissions from vehicle fuels while elevating the United States to become the second-highest exporter in a growing international ethanol market. As we mentioned in our statement on EPA’s decision last month, the RFS has helped lower U.S. emissions through clean renewable fuels – including 435 million gallons of sugarcane ethanol from Brazil in 2013 alone.
While EPA missed a golden opportunity to increase the volume of low-carbon fuels flowing to American drivers by not finalizing the 2014 volume standards, it at least stepped back from proposed cuts to advanced biofuel targets, preserving U.S. advanced biofuel supplies for the time being.
Slashing RFS targets, or scrapping the program altogether, would be a fundamental step backward for America’s renewable energy industry, threaten U.S. access to low-carbon fuel, and run counter to international emissions reduction goals.
During tomorrow’s hearing, we hope to hear clarity on when and how EPA will address the 2014, 2015, and 2016 RFS mandates so Brazil’s sugarcane ethanol producers can ensure a dependable supply of advanced biofuels to America’s drivers – not hyperbole about a program that’s driving economic and environmental benefits.