Canada announces plans for national low-carbon fuel standard

By Erin Voegele, Biomass Magazine.

On Nov. 25, the government of Canada announced plans to develop a low-carbon fuel standard that would require reductions in the carbon footprint of fuels supplied in the nation based on lifecycle analysis.

A statement issued by the government notes a clean fuel standard would be flexible and would promote the use of clean technology and lower carbon fuels. It would also promote alternatives, such as electricity, biogas, hydrogen and renewable fuels. The primary objective of the program is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30 megatons per year by 2030. The statement indicated this level of reduction would provide a significant contribution towards achieving Canada’s commitment to reduce emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and is equivalent to removing more than 7 million vehicles from the road for a year.

According to the Canadian government, the proposed clean fuel standard would feature a performance-based approach by setting requirements to reduce the lifecycle carbon intensities of fuels supplied in a given year, based on lifecycle analysis. Unlike renewable fuel mandates, the approach would not prescribe particular low-carbon fuels or technology that must be use. Rather, it focuses on emissions reduction.

A statement published by the Canadian government also states the standard is expected to encourage the use of cleaner fuels in a variety of sectors of the economy, including fuels used in transportation, homes and buildings and those that power industry. It is expected to address a broad suite of fuels, including liquid fuels, gaseous fuels and solid fuels.

The government also noted the standard will be designed to provide flexibility to fuel suppliers, and said it could include provisions to take into account regional differences, similar to those under existing renewable fuel regulations.