Germany’s environment agency UBA has urged the country’s transport sector to up its carbon cutting game after the agency reported 2013 emissions slightly up from 1990 levels, compared to cuts in emissions across other industrial reporting sectors.
Germany’s overall carbon emissions fell from 1.25bn t in 1990 to 912mn t in 2014, a drop of 27%, but still well shy of the 40% carbon cut which the government wants to see in place by 2020. Road transport emissions were a glaring exception to the otherwise downward trend in German industrial emissions, rising 0.6% from 1990 to 2014, and putting road transport at an 18% share of the country’s overall carbon emissions relative to a 39% share from the energy sector.
Biofuels received a nod to their role in CO2 reduction, while UBA urged hauliers to shift tonnage from road to rail and water, as well as the adoption of a cap on permissible HGV emission thresholds, as their main weapons against climate change.
But with the diesel sector consuming just under half of Germany’s overall road transport fuel pool, biofuels offer the obvious drop-in carbon cutting solution alongside the longer-term and potentially more expensive solutions of modal shifts and introduction of improved engine technologies.
Germany’s mandatory regime for biofuels switched to a carbon-cutting rather than volumetric methodology at the start of this year. The shift has coaxed a steady increase in advertised GHG reduction credentials from biofuel producers selling into the German market. Vegetable-oil biodiesel producers are now advertising typical GHG reductions of around 60% relative to equivalent volumes of fossil fuel, with waste-based biodiesel boasting carbon cutting credentials of over 90%.
UBA highlighted plug-in hybrids as a carbon tackling technology for the transport fuel sector. But the technology will remain restricted to the roughly one third of German vehicles consuming gasoline, at least in the near term.