Let's Be Proactive Today

  • Monday, 22 September 2014 00:00

By now most of you have probably read or heard about the many tens of thousands of people who took to the streets in New York City over the weekend to voice their concern about climate change and to call for global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

In an effort to build a global response, according to the New York Times, Secretary of State John Kerry convened a meeting of foreign ministers from the 17 member Major Economies Forum to work on putting together a global deal to fight climate change.  But the gathering of ministers is not anticipated to produce any type of deal for 2015.  Meanwhile, as you and I find the need to drive to work, the grocery store or to shuttle our children to and from after school activities, what can we do right here, right now to lower our greenhouse gas emissions?

This might come as a surprise to some readers but perhaps the single most effective public policy the United States has for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the renewable fuel standard, commonly called the RFS. The RFS calls for the use of increasing amounts of biofuels to displace petroleum, a finite fossil fuel with high carbon emissions. Remember, biofuels are made from renewable plant materials including the starch in a corn kernel.  Compared to petroleum gasoline, biofuels, such as ethanol, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 57%.  In 2013 biofuels, like ethanol, cut GHG emissions by approximately 38 million metric tons.  As a reference point, that reduction is similar to taking 8 million vehicles off the road for a full year.

In addition to supporting the RFS for all of its greenhouse gas emission benefits, we can further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using E15 today! E15 is 85% gasoline and 15% ethanol, just 5% more ethanol compared to regular gasoline.  Most vehicles (2001 or newer) on the highways today can use E15.  If all those drivers had access to E15, we could cut GHG emissions by another 19 million tons. 

So do we wait for a "global deal" to fight GHG emissions or do we take matters into our own hands and tackle the problem today?  Let’s be proactive.  The next time you need fuel, if your vehicle is 2001 or newer, look for and fill up with E15.   If your favorite fueling stop doesn't yet offer E15, ask for it.  Let's do what we can right now to keep reducing those GHG emissions.