Ryan Schuchard, Climate and Energy Manager, BSR

Even as climate change looks increasingly menacing, energy producers are scrambling to meet growing fuel demand in whatever form is available—putting more pressure on companies to be strategic about how they manage transportation fuel sustainability.

Despite growing concerns about climate change, oil is likely to remain the backbone of fuel supplies for decades. Today, it makes up more than 90 percent of all transportation fuel consumed in North America. Natural gas is on a sharp rise, forecasted to power up to 30 percent of U.S. trucks by 2020. Biofuels and electric vehicles are only very small parts of the mix, owing to technical limitations and high costs (for long-haul trucks in particular), but fast-paced research and development efforts are seeking to improve their potential.

These four fuel categories—oil, natural gas, biofuel, and electricity—come with a host of real and potential sustainability impacts based on where, how, and on what scale the fuels are produced.

Attention to fuel sustainability is increasing, from the launch of more sophisticated fuel greenhouse gas accounting guidance, to calls for companies to eliminate oil sands from their fuel, to the rise of greener vehicle technologies.  In turn, fuel-using companies need to make sense of diverse stakeholder perspectives and the quickening pace of technological developments.

In this context, BSR’s Future of Fuels initiative is working with companies and thought leaders to improve the sustainability of our fuel system in a way that is practical, intelligent, and inclusive. We recently hosted a Stakeholder Forum on Fuel Sustainability in San Francisco, which brought together more than 50 leading thinkers and practitioners to discuss the issues.

As a next step, BSR is holding a four-part, web-based series of practitioner discussions to dig into each of the different fuel types, with separate discussions on oil (June 11), natural gas (Jun 25), biofuels (July 9), and electricity (July 23). In advance, we invite your comments on:

  • Which sustainability risks and opportunities among these fuels need more attention?
  • What kind of contribution should the different fuels make in creating a desirable and achievable future fuel mix?
  • What is needed to catalyze sufficient positive change?
  • How should business drive this change?

Comments made here will be profiled in our upcoming practitioner discussions, which are part of a wider Future of Fuels Stakeholder Forum Series that will shape a shared, BSR-led perspective on what business should do to improve the sustainability impacts of fuel. So, tell us what you think in the comment box on the upper right.

These fuel practitioner discussions are for BSR members and contributors to our Future of Fuels initiative. For more information, you can contact us.