Leading environmental officials in the United States and European Union agree that sugarcane ethanol is a high-performing renewable fuel that can help reduce greenhouse gases significantly while diversifying energy resources. The transportation sector currently contributes 25 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and is the fastest growing source. As government officials confront the challenge of moving to a low-carbon economy, sugarcane ethanol can help with this transition.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The leading environmental regulatory agency in the United States determined that sugarcane ethanol cuts carbon dioxide emissions by more than 60 percent and designated it an Advanced Renewable Fuel. This designation under the country’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) puts sugarcane ethanol in an important category of superior biofuels that will make up 79.5 billion liters (21 billion gallons) of the fuel supply in the United States by 2022 – an amount equal to about 15 percent of today’s gasoline market.
California Air Resources Board & Energy Commission
In California, air regulators have classified sugarcane ethanol as a “low-carbon” fuel under their Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s transportation sector. In a 2009 report used to develop the standard, the California Energy Commission concluded: “Currently, Brazilian sugarcane ethanol has the lowest carbon life‐cycle rating of all of the different types of ethanol that are currently being produced at commercial‐sized facilities.”
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) calculates that greenhouse gas emissions reductions from sugarcane can reach 87% if considering traditional production, bioelectricity generation and mechanized harvesting practices.
In 2008, the EU adopted a Directive on the promotion and use of renewable energy sources that set greenhouse gas emissions reductions from sugarcane ethanol at 71 percent.