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The EU road to clean mobility: Don’t ignore low-carbon fuels


EU negotiators are now trying to chart the best course for clean mobility in the EU in the coming decades – specifically on standards for reducing CO2 emissions from cars. They need to focus more on the important contribution that low-carbon liquid fuels can make now and in the future.

Sustainable low-carbon liquid fuels like renewable ethanol are essential to achieving the emissions-reduction goals of the Clean Mobility Package. They represent an immediate, cost-effective solution to decarbonising transport with existing infrastructure and internal combustion engines that will still be prevalent on the road in the coming decades, even when considering the most ambitious scenarios for the uptake of electric vehicles.

Trilogue negotiators have a unique opportunity to adopt a realistic approach to clean mobility by moving progressively towards a full life-cycle analysis approach to counting emissions, and incentivising sustainable low-carbon renewable fuels.

The life-cycle approach

By focusing solely on tailpipe emissions and failing to distinguish between fossil and biogenic CO2, the proposed Regulation:

  • totally ignores the environmental footprint of the fuels and the vehicles; overlooks the environmental benefits of certain alternative fuels such as locally produced renewable ethanol
  • fails to fully incentivise the use of better fuels
  • creates a dependency on one technology at the expense of the diversification to other effective available solutions

By requiring the European Commission to establish a life-cycle emissions reporting methodology for fuels and vehicles from 2025 onwards, the European Parliament’s amendments 40 and 23 represent a step in the right direction to better account the environmental impact of different vehicle technologies and their energy sources.

Low-carbon fuels

Recognising the contribution of alternative fuels to reducing emissions as part as the 2023 review of the effectiveness of the Regulation is a welcome proposal from the European Parliament and Council. But there is no objective reason to limit the scope of alternative fuels to ‘synthetic and advanced alternative fuels’ as proposed by the Council, or to ‘advanced low-carbon fuels, including biogas and synthetic fuels produced with renewable energy’, as proposed by the Parliament.

Instead, the review should consider the potential contribution of all renewable fuels meeting the sustainability criteria of the recently adopted Renewable Energy Directive II.

Read ePURE’s full position paper here.