By Scott Richman, RFA Chief Economist
The producer-members of the Renewable Fuels Association are hard at work implementing their pledge to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner, an effort that perfectly aligns with commemorating today, September 21, as Zero Emissions Day.
In July 2021, RFA members sent a letter to President Biden to memorialize our commitment to achieving net zero. Ethanol already cuts greenhouse gas emissions by half compared to gasoline, but we can—and must—do more to decarbonize transportation fuels and combat climate change in the decades ahead.
This February, RFA released a new report, Pathways to Net-Zero Ethanol: Scenarios for Ethanol Producers to Achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2050, highlighting new emerging technologies and practices in the renewable fuels industry that will help the sector move forward with the net-zero carbon goal.
RFA’s member companies adopted a bold vision for ethanol’s future. This new study shows that, with the right policy and investment signals in place, we can reach our objective sooner than 2050 and could even be producing carbon-negative ethanol by mid-century. This study provides a workable roadmap for completing the second half our journey to carbon neutrality.
“By surveying over two dozen potential emissions reduction actions throughout the corn ethanol supply chain and prioritizing them by technical feasibility, scale of emissions reduction, and cost, this study presents a series of pathways to net-zero carbon intensity corn ethanol by 2050,” the study’s lead author, Isaac Emery, Ph.D., writes.
The study identified five actions that constitute a core pathway for achieving net-zero carbon emissions:
- Renewable energy use by corn farmers and ethanol producers;
- Expanded adoption of corn kernel fiber fermentation at dry mills;
- ‘Better-than-business-as-usual’ industry-wide efficiency improvements and ethanol yields;
- Carbon capture and sequestration by ethanol facilities; and
- Expansion of conservation tillage and other low-carbon practices by corn growers.
As the nation focuses on the prospect of a zero-emissions future, this is a great day to highlight ethanol producers’ pledge as the industry moves toward a horizon of new opportunities for a stronger economy and a healthier environment.
For more information on our pledge and its pathways to success, click here.