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January 19, 2021   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

Making Progress on Climate and Clean Air in a New Administration

As manufacturers are hard at work developing zero-emissions solutions over the next decade, introducing the latest diesel options today can provide significant clean air benefits.


As the Biden Administration takes shape, action on climate and energy policy are front and center. Emerging technologies offer the prospect of significant greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions but only when deployed at full scale in the marketplace. Enter the new generation of diesel technology - one that is here, ready and available today to deliver significant climate and clean air benefits.

President-elect Joe Biden promised bold action to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and improve air quality for sensitive and disadvantaged communities. As transportation sources are now the leading category of GHG emissions, focus will be on strategies to introduce emerging and next-generation solutions that power not only cars but also commercial vehicles and beyond, including agricultural, construction equipment and even marine vessels and locomotives. Taken together, the range of actions will set a vision for an ambitious “clean energy” future. 

Emerging technologies offer the prospect of significant GHG reductions when deployed at full scale in the marketplace. But achieving the emissions reduction from many of the anticipated actions are much longer term, dependent on commercialization of developing technologies, essential supporting infrastructure development, successful legislative action and favorable economic conditions. In the meantime, progress to reduce GHG emissions and improve air quality is essential. 

Enter the new generation of diesel technology - one that is here, ready and available on today to deliver significant climate and clean air benefits. From cleaner and more efficient engines, to the use of low carbon advanced biofuels, investment in the new generation diesel technology can help eliminate short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP) buying important atmospheric time for longer term strategies.

While commercial trucks and buses make up a much smaller share of the vehicles on the road, they are responsible for about 24 percent of GHG emissions from the transportation sector. Within the population of trucks and buses, larger Class 8 trucks are responsible for 60 percent of all emissions, and the largest opportunity.

 GHG Emissions

As manufacturers anticipate rolling out zero-emissions options that power Class 8 trucks over the next decade, significant emission reductions can be achieved simply by replacing an older less efficient diesel truck with a new more efficient diesel option, with benefits beginning immediately. Replacing a single older truck with a new diesel option can eliminate almost 10 tons of GHG emissions. Like passenger cars, trucks are now subject to stringent fuel economy and GHG emission reduction requirements. New more efficient diesel trucks are expected to deliver the overwhelming majority of the more than 1 billion tons of GHG emissions from these Phase 1 and Phase 2 standards for trucks between 2014 and 2027.

While expectations are high for zero-emission trucks, an overlooked immediate term strategy to reduce carbon is using advanced biofuels - renewable diesel fuel and biodiesel - in all existing diesel engines. Capable of reducing GHG emissions by at least 50 percent and in the case of renewable diesel fuel over 80 percent, these advanced biofuels are growing in availability and have a proven track record.

Consider that the biggest GHG reductions from the transportation sector in California come from the use of renewable diesel and biodiesel fuel, eliminating more GHG emissions than the switch to electric cars, trucks and buses by almost 4-to-1.  

CO2 Reductions

Compared to the investments required for a switch to all-electric vehicles or other alternative fuels, the switch to biodiesel and renewable diesel is easy and comes at a low cost, with no need to invest in new trucks, engines or refueling or recharging stations. These fuels may be distributed in existing fuel infrastructure and may be used in existing diesel engines. 

The incoming Biden Administration and Congress are also expected to advance policies to reduce emissions and improve air quality for disadvantaged communities such as those located near freight facilities like warehouses, ports and railyards will realize direct and immediate benefits from the replacement of older and higher emitting diesel technology with new near-zero emissions diesel options. As manufacturers are hard at work developing zero-emissions solutions over the next decade, introducing the latest diesel options today can provide significant clean air benefits.

 



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Key Contact

Ezra Finkin
Director, Policy
efinkin@dieselforum.org
301-668-7230

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