ePURE: Decarbonizing transport must take center stage in Europe

By ePURE | December 14, 2015

On Dec, 12, 195 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and strengthen global action to fight climate change. The Paris Agreement includes an objective to limit global warming to “well below 2C above pre-industrial levels” and “pursue efforts” to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C. The European Renewable Ethanol Association (ePURE) welcomes the COP21 agreement and calls on the EU to make decarbonizing its transport sector a key priority of its actions to meet the COP21 ambitions.

Europe’s transport emissions have increased by 36 percent from 1990 levels and now account for 26 percent of Europe’s total GHG emissions—Europe’s second biggest source of GHG emissions. Unless European policymakers take decisive and immediate action to decarbonize Europe’s transport sector, there is little hope Europe will achieve the level of GHG reductions needed to meet the COP21 climate ambitions. According to the IPCC, Europe’s transport’s growing emissions could be cut substantially through ‘aggressive and sustained’ policy measures, including reducing the carbon intensity of fuels by substituting oil-based products with biofuels.

The EU-wide roll-out of E10—a petrol-ethanol fuel blend containing up to 10 percent ethanol which is widely sold in France, Germany and Finland—would reduce Europe’s transport emissions by 15 million tonnes, the equivalent to the annual emissions from 9 million cars or 4 percent of Europe’s total car fleet. Because ethanol can be blended with petrol, and used in existing petrol engines, it is a technology that will allow Europe to decarbonize its current vehicle fleet without needing to replace existing vehicles and fuel infrastructure.

In order to maximize this potential, energy taxation in the EU needs to be changed. European renewable ethanol, with around 60 percent savings compared to petrol, is currently the most heavily taxed of all transport fuels used in Europe despite it being the most available and feasible solution needed to help Europe achieve its climate objectives. Taxing fuels based on their CO2 emissions and energy content is a fairer approach that would incentivize the increased use of low carbon alternatives, including ethanol.

“We welcome the ambitious agreement at COP21—but now Europe needs to match its ambitious climate rhetoric with concrete policy actions. Tackling its transport emissions is a first step. Increasing the use of ethanol fuel in transport, through the wide introduction of E10 fuel blend, is a realistic and practical step European countries can make to immediately reduce Europe’s transport emissions.” said Robert Wright, secretary-general of ePURE.