Climate neutral fuels for a climate neutral economy by 2050

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

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Achieving the European climate neutral target entails a radical transformation within Europe’s economy. With its leadership position at stake, our continent will need to adapt all aspects of its economy to allow for a viable environmental transition.

The Eu­ropean Green Deal is an ambitious, forward looking vision which sets the foundations of a sustainable future for Europe; a future which must now be delivered. The recently published Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy confirms that the transport sector will inevitably need to play its part in these efforts.

Road transport, which proved its fundamental role during the current pandemic, will thus require a deep transformation in order to align with the climate agenda.

Europe can look to many paths when it comes to drawing a roadmap towards a climate neutral transport sector. The structural realities of the sector mean that full electrification, while an essential element of our transition, cannot deliver full decarbonisation alone.

Therefore, diversification of energy supply for the transport sector constitutes an essential vector for achieving climate neutrality. Alternative solutions in parallel to electrification is a path worth further supporting as it will ultimately help Europe achieve its climate targets.

In this regard, climate neutral liquid fuels provide numerous advantages for Europe’s transport sector. They can help provide a wide array of options to offer a more flexible road transport system that meets our efficiency and sustainability ambition.

Liquid fuels such as bio and e-fuels exist and offer viable routes for the progressive reduction of transport emissions.

Fuels including high-octane fuels, advanced biofuels, e-fuels, 100% bio-ethers, bio-naphtha / biomass or waste to chemicals have a strong potential to be blended seamlessly into the liquid fuel mix and their compatibility with existing and future engine technolo­gies, including hybrid, supports their claim to play a role in the transport energy mix.

Thus, a shift to better performing and cleaner liquid fuels while taking full advantage of innovative, more efficient engines can make sustainable transport an economic reality. In this regard, the uptake of cleaner liquid fuels is expected to support a rapid lowering of emissions in a cost-efficient manner and provide technical solutions that will allow Europe to reach its 2050 targets.

Furthermore, the social aspect of the environmental transition also needs to be accounted for. In fact, the transport sector further encompasses a social dimension which supports connectivity and jobs, two essential metrics in Europe’s economy.

Hybrid engines with climate neutral liquid fuels can help ensure a fair transformation of our transport systems. This includes providing essential transport solutions to those most likely to be left behind and supporting the resilience of the European automotive value chain.

We strongly believe Europe can be climate neutral by 2050. This ambitious target will however require that the right framework and conditions are in place and that all technical solutions, are supported and considered.

These include investment in research, changes to the feedstock and new ways to pro­cess and use our transport fuels. While ensuring that Europe retains its leadership in the transport sector, we aspire to intensify our work with policymakers in order to identify and enact actions that support an increasing share of climate neutral liquid fuels.

These include most notably an important improvement in the reduction of transport pollution over a lifecycle assessment, the implementation of more stringent air pollution standards for combustion-engine vehicles, as well as ongoing and continued collaboration with the automotive industry, parts suppliers, refiners, chemicals and agricultural sec­tors to develop and promote sustainable solutions for road transport.

As decarbonisation of the transport sector will require a holistic approach, we also aspire to cooperate with the various actors of the aviation and marine transport sectors about how climate neutral liquid fuels can support the decarbonisation of these difficult to abate fields of the economy.

This outreach will also include continued support to research and innovation networks which further help improve the availability of innovative technologies that deliver climate neutral liquid fuels.

As an industry, we support the European Union’s ambition of achieving climate neutrality in Europe by 2050. In order to respond to the climate challenge, governments, industry and civil society need to work together to deliver for Europe and to demonstrate leadership for the world. We remain committed to this goal.

Please find here Sustainable Fuels’ Vision for 2050 – “Sustainable mobility for all: climate neutral liquid fuels”.

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