The climate benefits of biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel have been debated for many years. Attempts to compare these fuels with one another and fossil-derived fuels such as gasoline and diesel confront many uncertainties, not all of which can be resolved through further data analysis. By scrutinizing the greatest sources of uncertainty and grounding analysis in the areas of high certainty such as combustion chemistry and the terrestrial carbon cycle, this paper sheds light on this challenging subject and points the way toward new strategies for addressing CO2 emissions from transportation fuels.
Autonomous "robot" vehicles that can drive themselves hold great promise for transforming transportation systems across the world. Part of their appeal is the potential to greatly improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions. Not so fast, notes Bradley Berman in a critical piece on ReadWriteDrive, where he quotes Energy Institute research professor John DeCicco's admonition that technology "doesn't save us from ourselves."
Since 2005, the United States has embarked on a steady expansion of renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, widely touted as a win-win proposition for energy security and the environment. However, the promised breakthroughs in biofuel technology have greatly lagged the rapid ramp-up of production mandated by Congress while adverse side effects of the policy have become ever more clear.
The New York Times posted an article today entitled Industry Awakens to the Threat of Climate Change, describing how Coke, Nike, the World Bank and even the tycoons in Davos are looking at the physical impacts of climate change as a business risk with real dollars attached to them in the form of lost resources.
Based on results from his recent study, the Energy Institute’s John DeCicco has authored an article for Yale’s Environment 360 blog. This thought-provoking piece opens:
Every U.S. president since Ronald Reagan has backed programs to develop alternative transportation fuels. But there are better ways to foster energy independence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions than using subsidies and mandates to promote politically favored fuels.