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

A comparison of induced land-use change emissions estimates from energy crops

Finds that ILUC emissions from energy cropping are highly sensitive to assumptions of the composition of marginal lands and suggests that additional sustainability safeguards may be necessary for energy cropping in order to ensure that it only occurs on low-carbon stock land.

2018.02.06 | White paper
Review of the impact of crop residue management on soil organic carbon in Europe

Assesses the environmental impacts of crop residue management to inform advanced biofuel policy in Europe.

2017.12.15 | Working paper
CO2-based synthetic fuel: Assessment of potential European capacity and environmental performance

A consultant report assessing the potential contribution of CO2-based synthetic fuels, including power-to-liquids, to climate mitigation goals in Europe.

2017.11.14 | Consultant report
See all publications

Staff blog

The hidden cost of Indonesia’s biodiesel mandate to consumers

Indonesian drivers probably don’t realize they are paying more at the pump because of their country’s biodiesel mandate, which sets ambitious targets for the blending of biodiesel in diesel fuel. Indonesia’s biodiesel mandate is scheduled to increase to 30% in 2020, and as total transport fuel consumption is expected to grow steadily, this means the total amount of biodiesel required, and the total additional fuel costs to consumers, will ramp up quickly.

Staff