Biofuels Are Part of The Solution to Ontario's Transportation Emissions

  • National Newswatch

Governments around the world will leave the Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21) with aggressive greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. These governments, including Canada's federal government and provincial governments that have made emission reductions a key part of their mandate, will need to be seen delivering quick results.It is a highly complex issue with no easy solution, but focusing on the largest greenhouse gas emitting sectors can yield immediate results. The transportation sector accounts for 23% of our nation's greenhouse gas emissions. In Ontario, this sector is the largest emitter – accounting for over one third (34%) of total emissions.Biofuels are part of the solution. The biofuels currently used in Canada reduce carbon emissions by 4.2 megatonnes every year – the equivalent of removing one million cars from our roads. On a lifecycle basis, ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 50% compared to gasoline, and its use in Ontario is reducing emissions by 1.2 million tonnes per year. Ontario's Greener Diesel Mandate, requiring fuel suppliers to include an average adjusted volume of 2% biodiesel in 2015, 3% in 2016 and 4% in 2017, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 125,000 tonnes this year, and ultimately 500,000 tonnes in 2017 and onwards. Put in perspective, the 2% biodiesel mandate will be the equivalent of removing 140,000 cars from our roads this year.Outside of biofuels, there are few short term options. Since the vast majority of today's vehicles are fueled by gasoline and diesel, alternatives such as mass transit and electric or natural gas vehicles are excellent long term solutions for reducing emissions, but their implementation will require major time commitments, behavioural changes and expensive infrastructure development. Biofuels are here now and offer immediate environmental and economic benefits. Expanding their use will provide the emission reductions that leaders will be desperately seeking after COP21.Even in the longer term there are some transportation applications that will still need the power of combustion engines. Biofuels are the obvious emission friendly alternative to fossil fuels, and expanding their use will also reduce greenhouse gases from otherwise extremely carbon intensive industries like aviation.More can be done, and the industry is here to work with the provincial government to further reduce emissions from Ontario's roads. The Government of Ontario's decision to develop a cap and trade system under the Western Climate Initiative, which includes Quebec and California, has great potential to help to shape the province's energy future. Cap and trade systems use economic incentives to reduce emissions, and transitioning Ontario to a low carbon economy will require transportation sector greenhouse gas reductions through fuel innovation and diversification. Shifting to clean-burning biofuels not only ensures Ontario's energy needs are met, it also protects the environment and contributes to long-term economic prosperity.To be successful, Ontario's cap and trade policies need to support the critical role that biofuels play as a low emission fuel option. By its very nature, the biofuels industry is helping to reduce emissions. Increased biofuels usage will yield further benefits.Ontario's cap and trade system also needs to reward early action by industries like biofuels that have already been actively reducing their emission profile, and should make allowances to promote industry development and use of low carbon products.Further investment in Ontario's vibrant biofuels industry is also critical. We will rely on internal combustion engines for our transportation needs for years to come. Increasing the amount of biofuels that are being blended into our liquid fuel supply is key to transitioning to a low carbon economy and prolonging the supply of fossil fuels.Using cleaner fuel results in cleaner air – and biofuels are part of the solution to Ontario's transportation sector emissions no matter what transportation fuels are used in the future.Jim Grey, ChairCanadian Renewable Fuels AssociationThe Canadian Renewable Fuels Association (CRFA) is a non-profit organization with a mission to promote the use of value added products made from renewable resources through consumer awareness and government liaison activities. Learn more about what CRFA is doing for the renewable fuels industry by visiting, attending the 2015 Canadian Bioeconomy Conference: From Biofuels to Bioeconomy, and following us on social media.