Transport represents about 24% of total greenhouse gas emissions, higher than any other sector in the UK economy, and these are 1.3% higher than in 2013. In fact, there has been little or no improvement to carbon emissions for several decades, with EU-wide transport emissions rising by 36% since 1990.
Greenhouse gas emissions such as those created when burning fossil fuels in vehicles can contribute to global warming and climate change, among the biggest challenges we face as a planet. In response, countries have set legally binding targets to increase the use of renewable energy (displacing fossil fuels) and decrease carbon emissions. For example, the Renewable Energy Directive stipulates that by 2020, 10% of the UK's transport energy should come from renewable sources - it currently sits at about 2.3% whilst the trajectory to hit this requires about 8%. Similarly, the UK's Climate Change Act has even more challenging targets for 2030, for which we are currently way off-course. Without immediate action, we will fail to meet these legally binding targets, further damaging our environment whilst sending a negative message to the international community.
Recently there has also been increasing concern about air quality, particularly from pollution caused by diesel vehicles in urban areas. It has been claimed that this poor air quality contributes to up to 400,000 premature deaths, as well as causing or exacerbating other significant conditions such as lung cancer, heart disease and asthma.
Bioethanol is a low-carbon renewable fuel made from feedstock such as wheat or sugar beet, which displaces fossil fuels in vehicles. It typically offers greenhouse gas emissions savings of around 60% or more compared to standard petrol production. It is renewable because it can be constantly regrown, and during this growing process the feedstock also consumes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, offsetting significant greenhouse gases.
Ethanol is not carcinogenic, whilst several chemicals contained within petrol (such as Benzene and Butadiene) are, so increasing the levels of ethanol in fuel helps to reduce the carcinogens produced by transport. The oxygen contained within ethanol helps the fuel to burn better and increases the efficiency of the engine, lowering the hydrocarbons that are released. Bioethanol is also only mixed with petrol, which produces around 300% less 'Nox' pollutants (nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide) than diesel.
The feedstocks used in the production of British bioethanol comes primarily from British farms, helping to support British agriculture whilst also minimising the impact of transportation. Additionally, the protein-rich animal feed made as a co-product helps to displace less sustainable imported soya products, which dairy farmers would otherwise be reliant upon.
Bioethanol produced in the UK is International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) accredited and is already used at thousands of petrol pumps across the UK.