The so-called Dieselgate scandal, which has spread from Volkswagen to several other automakers, casts a shadow on claims about cleaner fuels. Today, there is more information, and more people are expecting, vehicles and fleets to run on cleaner, more sustainable fuels—but which fuels are clean? And what makes them sustainable?

BSR’s Future of Fuels has been working with our member companies since 2011 to answer that question. We help our members understand fuel sustainability and what they can do—individually and collectively—to use more sustainable fuels. And with science telling us we need to rapidly accelerate the use of low-carbon fuels, along with regulators across the globe targeting transportation, our focus couldn’t be more timely.

In two weeks, we will unveil the first part of our work on a fuel sustainability tool, the “Fuel Tool,” with a live demonstration to our members and clean fuel experts, fleet owners, and interested stakeholders.

We are especially excited about this milestone in the ongoing development of the Fuel Tool because it is designed to answer many questions facing companies about their vehicle fleets today. The Fuel Tool will:

  • Provide guidance on how to ask for low-carbon fuels. A basic question every company today must ask is: How can I use the lowest impact fuels to meet new greenhouse gas emissions laws? Whether it’s the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, California’s Low-Carbon Fuel Standard, or even the European Union’s Fuel Quality Directive, regulators around the globe are cranking the screws on clean fuels. The Fuel Tool allows users to compare different types of the same fuel on their climate impacts. Fuel users can see if a diesel sourced from the U.S. Gulf of Mexico is lower-impact than a blend of diesel and soy-based biodiesel. And it allows users to see the impact of complex uncertainties in diesel, biodiesel, and natural gas use on full value chain emissions.
  • Cut through confusion on the sustainability of different fuels. Fuel users are facing questions about the origin, climate impacts, and source materials of their fuels—and getting conflicting answers from experts and advocates. The Fuel Tool sorts fuels by type and provides credible data on their sustainability impacts using a “materiality approach” that focuses on information relevant to key questions for companies that are operating fleets. A publicly available technical reference document explains how we work with experts and users to do this.
  • Suggest tangible actions to take with internal teams and suppliers. The Fuel Tool provides actions that are available today to improve fuel sustainability. It includes guidance on how to avoid the biofuels that promote deforestation (which accelerates climate change) and helps companies prioritize suppliers that use certified sustainable fuels and other practices to improve fuel sustainability. It gives insight on how and where to target efforts to address methane “leakage” in the value chain so that natural gas delivers on the promise of providing a lower-carbon alternative to diesel.

Future of Fuels is just getting going—and the time for company action is now. Expectations for sustainable fuels will only increase, as topics in addition to climate and carbon enter the conversation—from water, to community, to human rights impacts. That is why we will continue developing the Fuel Tool in 2016 and beyond to meet growing needs of companies for clarity on these aspects of fuel sustainability.

Join us on November 3 for the live demonstration and forum on the Fuel Tool. Or join us as a member to shape and benefit from the Fuel Tool and our regular business-to-business dialogue on emerging fuel sustainability trends.

We can’t take all the complexity and uncertainty out of the sustainable fuel conversation. But we can make it easier to navigate.