USGC: Ethanol can reduce GHG emissions in New Zealand

By U.S. Grains Council | August 26, 2021

Ethanol’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction benefits could help New Zealand lower emissions by 30 percent by 2030, reaching net zero by 2050, the U.S. Grains Council and industry partners told that country’s policymakers in comments submitted last month.

A proposed mandate in New Zealand would go beyond previous efforts by mandating that fuel suppliers reduce GHG emissions from transport fuels by a defined percentage each year. The final percentages would be reexamined every five years and could increase under the Climate Change Response Act 2020.

The first effort by New Zealand to incorporate biofuels was in 2008, when the government attempted to create a 2.5 percent volumetric mandate. However, the law was repealed before going into effect.

“We have seen great strides toward GHG reduction in countries with similar carbon intensity requirements for liquid fuels. Canada’s proposed Clean Fuel Standard (CFS) is forecasted to reduce GHG emissions by more than 20 million tons by 2030,” said Isabelle Ausdal, USGC’s manager of ethanol trade policy and economics.

In its comments, U.S. industry representatives recommended that life cycle analysis (LCA) certifications align with existing international standards, such as the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) model. Increased GHG reduction targets across individual fuel types have also been promoted to provide for maximum GHG savings. Establishing individual reduction requirements will identify fuels with the most significant reduction benefits, such as U.S. ethanol, and allow for more accurate cost/benefit comparisons, the U.S. stakeholders said. According to New Zealand’s calculations, conventional ethanol is the most affordable biofuel and is expected to remain so into 2050.

“Applying consistent carbon intensity requirements across fuel types will provide long-term certainty to the transport industry and fuel suppliers while ensuring an ongoing and more ambitious contribution towards New Zealand’s climate commitments,” Ausdal said.

If implemented, trade can play a role in making up for the deficit between domestic production and increased demand. Current feedstocks for New Zealand’s ethanol production are whey and waste residues. The global availability of ethanol provides New Zealand with guaranteed supply as their domestic producers scale up local production.