Fuels

Fuels

Choice of fuel makes a big difference to overall transportation emissions. Replacing fossil gasoline and diesel with low-carbon alternatives can substantially reduce the climate impact of cars, trucks, airplanes, and ships. But not all alternative fuels are improvements over fossil fuels. Biofuels can have complicated impacts on global emissions if they come from feedstocks and land that otherwise would be used for food, livestock feed, or materials. How petroleum is produced can also significantly affect its climate impact.

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About the program

Choice of fuel makes a big difference to overall transportation emissions. Replacing fossil gasoline and diesel with low-carbon alternatives can substantially reduce the climate impact of cars, trucks, airplanes, and ships. But not all alternative fuels are improvements over fossil fuels. Biofuels can have complicated impacts on global emissions if they come from feedstocks and land that otherwise would be used for food, livestock feed, or materials. How petroleum is produced can also significantly affect its climate impact.

ICCT’s fuels team works on identifying the fuels that offer the greatest carbon reductions based on lifecycle analysis that factors in emissions from the production of feedstock and fuel as well as indirect effects. Depending on methodology, lifecycle analyses can yield varying results, and ICCT researchers play an active role in the research community developing lifecycle analysis techniques, in addition to helping policy makers understand and use the results. ICCT also works to support the design and implementation of effective low-carbon fuel policies. The right incentives can drive reductions in the carbon intensity of the fuel mix while encouraging innovation and efficiency. We work with policymakers to answer questions such as how to ensure biofuel feedstock sustainability, how to account for indirect effects, and how to support the commercialization of emerging low carbon technologies.

Recent publications

Indirect greenhouse gas emissions of molasses ethanol in the European Union

An assessment of the market impacts and full lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from incentivizing the use of molasses for biofuel production in the EU.

2017.09.27 | Working paper
Effective policy design for promoting investment in advanced alternative fuels

An analysis of advanced biofuel policies and recommendations for improving the effectiveness of policy support for emerging low carbon fuel technologies.

2017.09.21 | White paper
Waste not want not: Understanding the greenhouse gas implications of diverting waste and residual materials to biofuel production

Assesses the indirect greenhouse gas emissions of diverting waste and residual materials to biofuel production.

2017.08.24 | Consultant report
See all publications

Staff blog

The EU needs new environmental safeguard measures for advanced biofuels

The EC’s proposed mandate can indeed be an important step toward advanced biofuels, but it can and should do more to avoid unintended consequences. Improving the sustainability criteria defined in the mandate will help ensure that it reduces life-cycle GHG emissions without harming the environment in other ways.

Staff