Transportation is the top contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., so it’s critical for fleets, fuel marketers, policymakers and even individual drivers to be aware of the trend. That’s why I’ve gathered up some information from around the nation to help c-stores understand what’s behind the need for a more diversified fuel offering.
Where It’s Happening
Discussion of low-carbon policies often centers around California because it has what many people consider one of the world’s foremost clean air programs. However, these types of policies are present all across North America — and interest is only growing. And it’s not only government laws and regulations — the private sector is a major driver of the sustainability trend as well.
At least 15 U.S. states, along with Puerto Rico, have enacted legislation around greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions, and some other states are requiring agencies to report on their emissions. Additionally, some states have committed to GHG reduction goals through executive action but don’t yet have binding statutory targets.
In the Western region, California, Oregon and the Canadian province of British Columbia have low-carbon fuel standards that require reductions in GHG emissions and promote the use of clean fuels. It is less well known that Colorado, Hawaii and Nevada also have statutory targets for reducing GHG emissions and reporting emissions.
In the Northeast region, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont have statutory targets for reducing GHG emissions. New York is also aiming for net-zero GHG emissions by 2050.
In the heartland, Minnesota is targeting an emissions reduction of 30% from 2005 to 2025. Puerto Rico’s target is to reduce GHG emissions by 50% from 2020 to 2025, with a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2041.
Change is happening at the local level as well, in cities and counties. This is not a comprehensive list, but it shows that these types of policies are not limited to the West Coast.
The Private Sector is Making Moves Too
A growing number of companies also recognize that supporting the environment is not just the morally right thing to do but also makes good business sense. One example is a study that found that 90%t of S&P 500 Index companies published sustainability or corporate responsibility reports in 2019, compared to less than 20% in 2011. Such reporting shows a company’s commitment to sustainability and increases the pressure to improve performance because they’re sharing it publicly. These companies need partners to help them.
That’s where your fleet customers come in — they are in a prime position to help other companies lower their carbon footprints.
“There are more and more customers asking us to participate in their sustainability efforts,” says Vince Buonassi, group manager of transportation programs at G&D Integrated, a for-hire carrier. “Many of our customers analyze their entire supply chain for environmental impact, and some have even gone as far as incorporating sustainability into their purchasing departments.”
Cleaner Fuels for Cleaner Air
Today’s fleets have many more options than just petroleum diesel — are you supplying what they need? When looking to provide lower-carbon options, it’s important to consider not only tailpipe emissions but also lifecycle emissions — what goes into the full life of the fuel, from its production to its delivery to its end use.
One of the best sources for this is the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which oversees one of the most progressive clean air programs in the world, the Low Carbon Fuel Standard. CARB assigns carbon intensity scores to fuels, taking into account the total amount of greenhouse gasses emitted for the production and use of a fuel.
Here are the CI scores for various fuels, with lower being more environmentally friendly:*
- Biodiesel: 27.0
- Renewable diesel: 34.6
- Compressed natural gas from fossil fuels: 79.2
- Electricity from the California grid used as transportation fuel: 82.9
- Petroleum diesel: 100.5
Don’t Wait to Act
Another factor in choosing fuel is whether it can make a positive difference right now. Some options require major vehicle upgrades or even all new vehicles. The same goes for fueling storage and dispensing infrastructure.
Electric vehicles have been getting a lot of attention, but when it comes to the trucking industry, technology and charging infrastructure are not ready to meet current needs, and it may be over a decade before they are.
So meet fleets where they are: with biodiesel blends, they can start reducing emissions right now. It’s a drop-in fuel that works in existing vehicles, provides strong performance and has lower emissions than many other fuels. And it doesn’t require major infrastructure updates for c-stores.
We’re in a fast-moving world when it comes to environmental policies. While they are the source of some debate, the trend is clear: The public and private sectors are moving toward the adoption of sustainability targets.
If you to learn how supplying fleets with cleaner fuels can give your business an edge, I’d be happy to discuss it with you: [email protected].
*Average biodiesel and renewable diesel CI scores in 2019: https://ww3.arb.ca.gov/fuels/lcfs/lrtqsummaries.htm. Standard values for fossil-based CNG, grid electricity and petroleum diesel: https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/resources/documents/lcfs-pathway-certified-carbon-intensities