Ethanol Today: Sharing The Environmental, Human Health Benefits Of Ethanol With The World

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) projects greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions from U.S. ethanol will improve to more than 50 percent lower than gasoline by 2022, an increase from 43 percent in 2017. Combined with a broad, global push to reduce carbon intensity, organizations like the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and its partners in the U.S. biofuels industry are reaching out about the carbon reduction benefits of U.S. ethanol.

Individual countries agreed to specific GHG reduction commitments during the December 2015 COP 21 Paris Climate Conference. Two years later, many governments have developed frameworks to reduce carbon intensity and are developing more detailed, technical plans to implement those goals in individual sectors.

The Council is working directly with governments to recognize the potential within the transportation sector to reduce GHG emissions, more readily achieved than changes in electricity production or manufacturing due to the significant investment required for compliance.

Achieving carbon intensity reductions in the transportation sector does not require dramatic changes to existing infrastructure, vehicles or consumer habits. Replacing other components of gasoline like aromatics or MTBE with ethanol is much easier to implement than actions like shifting the source of energy generation. Switching to ethanol is less costly and proven effective, especially if the right policy framework is in place.

Ethanol blending also supports the growth of local economies. As the global middle class rises, individuals with higher incomes take advantage of different transportation options – moving from a bicycle to a motor scooter or a motor scooter to a four-wheel vehicle.

This trend is an important macroeconomic factor in regions like South and Southeast Asia and Africa that are experiencing growth in demand for both new vehicles and fuel similar to the drastic increase in demand experienced throughout the 1970s in the United States. Ethanol allows consumers to have access to the fuel they want now and will need in greater volumes in the future, all with significantly less impact on the country’s GHG emissions.

For example, Indonesia is forecast to be the sixth largest gasoline market by 2022. Additionally, Indonesia has a goal for renewables to represent 23 percent of its energy mix by 2025 and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 29 percent by 2030. The Council is working with the Indonesian government and local industry to demonstrate how ethanol can help achieve these ambitious goals.

Building relationships in global transportation sectors and sharing the U.S. experience with ethanol through reducing carbon intensity and improving air quality not only promotes the use of ethanol, but also helps establish the United States as a reliable and affordable source of ethanol as countries work to meet their GHG reduction and policy goals.

Editor’s note: The original version of this article appeared in Ethanol Today magazine, which can be accessed at