California’s new legislation rates Biodiesel as the most sustainable liquid fuel, reducing emissions by 50-81% on average

The new Low Carbon Fuels Standard (LCFS) recently adopted by the California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) has listed biodiesel as the lowest-carbon fuel in the US. The new CARB standard affirms that, depending on its feedstock, biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions from 50% to 81% on average compared with petroleum also including ILUC impacts.

According to CARB calculations Biodiesel represents today the most sustainable fuel available. The CARB is an Institutional research body consisting of twelve scientific members directly appointed by the Governor of California.

The quantification of the carbon intensity of conventional and alternative fuels was conducted through a seven-year comprehensive lifecycle analysis performed by CARB and peer-reviewed by a number of independent academic experts (1) and represents to this day one of the most thorough and rigorous evaluations quantifying the environmental footprint of biofuels.

The CARB works in a fully transparent way, with conclusion subject to multiple peer-reviews process. This is a radically different approach to the one adopted so far by the EU Commission within the Ifpri and Globiom ILUC research projects, for which no peer-review was realised and important transparency issues have been raised.

The draft law (2) and environmental analysis (3)  issued by California were also open to public review, which included two workshops in 2014 and two public hearings held in 2015.

California’s lifecycle model operated by CARB takes into account all of the steps required for the production of the fuel’s raw material – such as conversion and transportation. Furthermore, it also includes an analysis of the indirect land use change (ILUC) impact of biodiesel and other biofuels. The ILUC figures derived from this model and used in the Californian regulation are significantly lower than those in the EU legislation (4).

“The CARB spent seven years and a great deal of effort in comparing the environmental sustainability of various fuels. It came to the conclusion that biodiesel is the most sustainable alternative fuel available. While the new Californian standard, finalised by the strictest US regulatory body, will go into effect in less than 3 months, Europe is still entangled in an emotive debate about whether to recognise the benefits of biodiesel in the EU’s post-2020 biofuels policy” – said Raffaello Garofalo, EBB’s Secretary General.

Stringent air quality standards in California are no secret, and the reputation of the CARB speaks for itself. Most recently, CARB was the first to express its doubts about Volkswagen’s emission measurements to the Environmental Protection Agency and the scientific world.

On top of direct emissions, the CARB has also spent many years evaluating various fuels, including biodiesel, petroleum-based diesel and gasoline, natural gas and corn ethanol, to determine the amount of carbon dioxide generated by the production of each type of fuel: this led to the recent findings that biodiesel is the most sustainable liquid fuel reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 50% to 81% on average compared with petroleum.

The EBB therefore calls on EU decision-makers to account for these new findings in elaborating its EU biofuels policy post 2020.

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This is a press release from the European Biodiesel Board (EBB) is a non-profit organisation established in January 1997. Today, EBB gathers nearly 80 members across 21 Member-States, which represents 75% of the European output. Biodiesel is the main European solution to reduce emissions from transport and dependence on imported oil. EBB aims to promote the use of biodiesel in the European Union and is committed to fulfil International standards for sustainability in GHG emissions and sustainable feedstock. EBB is constantly working towards the development of improved and greener technologies.