Hydrogen, ammonia, and a clean fuel standard could help the world with net zero emissions

Electrifying global transportation will not be enough to achieve net zero emissions in the coming decades without pushing alternative fuels like hydrogen and ammonia, a large group of industry representatives and climate change experts told the Clean Air Task Force.

The group, while not fully aligned on how best to meet the emissions target backed by President Biden, world leaders and many industry leaders, also found some consensus that a Clean fuel standard can play a critical role in driving the carbon intensity of transportation energy. down to zero, CATF said in its report Thursday.

Transportation is the highest emitting sector in the United States, accounting for 29% of carbon emissions in 2019. The switch from commercial vehicle fleets to freighters to private cars is strongly recommended.

CATF, together with the Union of Concerned Scientists and other nonprofit groups, created the workshop with representatives from companies that traditionally based their business on burning fossil fuels, including Toyota Motor Corp. TM,
-0.59%,
Ford Motor Co. F,
-1.68%,
Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM,
-0.97%
and others.

Participants underlined in part their belief that a transition to net zero emissions should not hit consumers with high costs, nor erode their bottom line. This will likely mean that the technologies must either be inherently inexpensive or encouraged by government subsidies, the group said.

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“We… have stumbled upon a consensus that we need to follow parallel paths simultaneously, while pushing for policy change, in order to maximize our chances of success,” said Jonathan Lewis, senior counsel for the CATF, who heads the work of the organization to decarbonize the transport sector. “We encourage industry leaders, lawmakers, regulators and investors to review our findings and take them into account when assessing how best to pursue a deep decarbonization of the transportation sector.”

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As for the focus on alternative fuels, a future carbon-free transport system
probably require zero or near zero carbon fuels. These include zero carbon energy carriers such as hydrogen and electricity, and potentially net zero carbon
liquids made from zero-carbon energy sources such as renewables, nuclear power or fossil combustion with carbon capture and storage (CCS), according to the report. They can also include hydrocarbons whose combustion emissions can be net zero on a lifecycle basis, whether the carbon comes from biomass (which captures carbon from the atmosphere as it grows) or from the environment. carbon captured directly from the atmosphere by artificial systems.

Green hydrogen has found renewed interest in recent years, but remains expensive enough that subsidies are needed in most cases. Bill Gates billionaire included hydrogen in the green wallet it supports.

Ammonia has several key properties that make it a possible option, although most likely for use in the shipping industry and not in personal vehicles given its potency at high concentrations. One cubic meter of liquid ammonia actually provides about 50% more energy than the same volume of liquid hydrogen.

The most recent report of the Intergovernmental Climate Change Program (IPCC) found that decarbonizing the global transport sector, which accounts for 16% of global carbon emissions, is essential to tackle climate change and prevent the planet from falling. heat to above 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The workshop group agreed that the current pace of policy change is too slow. Specifically, the group discussed how a national low-carbon fuels standard, approaching or nested a net zero-carbon fuel standard by 2050, would likely be the most viable global framework and more adaptive to decarbonize the transport sector.

The world’s first low-carbon fuel standard mandate was promulgated by California in 2007. New York is continuing its own.

For now, suppliers whose fuels are above a certain level of carbon intensity are required to purchase credits from producers and users of low carbon fuels.


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