Climate goals at Paris talks should involve RFS — industry

Source: Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, November 9, 2015

The Renewable Fuels Association is calling on U.S. climate negotiators to include biofuels in plans to reduce global warming gases at a major U.N. conference in Paris in December.

The pro-ethanol trade group criticized the United States yesterday for leaving out biofuels in its intended nationally determined contribution — a pledge for cutting carbon emissions over a certain timeline. The United States has committed to cut emissions between 26 and 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 through policies like U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

Though other countries have included biofuels in their plans to reduce emissions, the United States does not rely on biofuel policy, namely the renewable fuel standard to increase production to 36 billion gallons by 2022, to reach its climate goals.

“As nations around the world are following the U.S. lead on biofuels policy, the INDC submission from the United States itself does not identify the RFS as a component of planned post-2020 U.S. climate actions, nor does it mention biofuels as a key catalyst of the GHG reductions observed over the past decade,” the report states. “In fact, the terms ‘RFS’ and ‘biofuels’ don’t even appear in the U.S. submission.”

RFA lists 28 countries that include an increase in biofuel use in their submissions to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“While other countries — from Brazil to India to Uruguay — will proudly promote the achievements of their biofuels industries and pledge to redouble efforts to expand biofuels at COP21, the United States appears poised to ignore the most successful U.S. climate-energy policy ever enacted,” the analysis states.

The debate over the carbon-cutting benefits of biofuels, particularly first-generation ethanol, has intensified in the weeks before the U.N. conference, which will begin Nov. 30. Opponents of the corn-based fuel have resurrected studies from the last several years, some of which find ethanol to lead to greater carbon emissions over time than fossil fuels (Greenwire, Oct. 20).

Nov. 30 also marks EPA’s deadline to finalize the annual biofuel volume requirements for 2014, 2015 and 2016, as well as the biodiesel mandate for 2017. EPA’s proposed rule called for year-over-year increases in biofuel mandates but would set lower requirements for refiners than Congress laid out in the 2007 law that created the program (Greenwire, June 3).

Click here to read the report.