How Can We Improve Fuel Sustainability?

May 15, 2013
  • Jessica Davis Pluess

    Former Manager, BSR

Jessica Davis Pluess, Manager, Research

Earlier this month, the BSR Future of Fuels team held its first stakeholder forum in San Francisco, which brought together more than 50 leading thinkers and practitioners working to improve the sustainability of our fuel system.

This first in a series of forums on fuel sustainability is a key milestone in our initiative, which is aimed at improving the lifecycle sustainability impacts of transportation fuels and promoting better fuel choices. The event was an opportunity to share results from Future of Fuels’ first phase, which uncovered the “what” (both what we know and what we don’t know about sustainability impacts of fuel types). It also served to initiate discussions on the second phase, the “how” (both existing solutions and new solutions for improving sustainability).

The panelists included NGOs and advocacy organizations alongside fleet managers and academics, who shared perspectives on the challenges and opportunities in making the significant transformation needed to prevent irreversible, catastrophic impacts of climate change, while ensuring economic growth, employment, and the health and safety of communities. The panelists agreed that the task is daunting but remained optimistic, pointing out that the urgency and complexity of the issues may inspire new cross-sector collaborations.

This event highlighted the need for:

  • New forms of collaboration and stakeholder engagement that ensure the views of affected communities and scientific experts are represented, heard, and addressed. They also require that actors throughout fuel and vehicle value chains work together more effectively to develop innovative solutions.
  • Greater investment in energy efficiency within and across the lifecycles of fuel derived from oil, gas, biofuels, and electricity, which may offer immediate and long-term cost savings and reductions in fuel consumption.
  • Policies that incentivize smart choices, such as a carbon tax, which provide the market predictability needed for companies to invest in innovation to achieve scalable and economically viable solutions.

The high level of engagement and interest by participants signals above all that we are working toward the same end and that there is great value in coming together to share leading practices and pitfalls across fuel systems, from oil and natural gas to biofuels and electric vehicles.

Notes from the forum are available here, and those interested in updates can sign up here.

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