This week, delegates from around the world are converging in Egypt for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27), an international summit aimed at accelerating global action to reduce emissions. The annual event takes place this year against the backdrop of both a global energy crisis and increased extreme weather events around the world. As the international community comes together to drive collective action for a cleaner future, America’s corn farmers remain committed to advancing sustainable agriculture and low carbon energy solutions. Solutions from agriculture and renewable fuels not only help the United States meet its climate commitments but will help countries around the world achieve theirs as well.
Throughout the United States, millions of farmers are wrapping up corn harvest and delivering it to local ethanol plants. As a fuel, today's ethanol cuts greenhouse gas emissions by up to 52 percent compared to gasoline, according to the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Lab. It's an Immediate, accessible tool for combatting climate change.
As we continue to advance on-farm sustainability improvements and deploy the technologies available at scale, ethanol’s lifecycle carbon emissions will only continue to fall. Agricultural practices have advanced significantly over the past few decades and are more sustainable than ever before. Farmers have an interest in maximizing their farm’s efficiency: today, more corn is being produced with less land and fewer resources. With an increased focus on soil health and soil carbon sequestration, carbon capture at biorefineries, and advanced technologies, corn-based ethanol is on a pathway to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
With the right policies, ethanol has more to offer. The bipartisan Next Generation Fuels Act would build on the Biden administration’s accomplishments from the Inflation Reduction Act by increasing access to higher blends of low carbon ethanol to cut transportation emissions, expanding our national fuel supply and saving us money at the pump in the process.
Ethanol is a tried and tested tool. But its full potential as a climate solution has yet to be realized. Transportation accounts for nearly a third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. For the U.S. to successfully pursue our climate goals and meet the ambitions of the Paris Agreement, we need to take advantage of all low carbon solutions, including using more low carbon fuels like ethanol in place of high carbon petroleum.
This expansion would demonstrate our national commitment to combatting climate change by significantly cutting emissions from our hardest-to-decarbonize sectors, like personal transportation and aviation. It would also support rural communities and small towns across the heartland – an opportunity to pursue economic and environmental goals concurrently.
In addition to cutting carbon emissions, ethanol also expands our fuel supply through oil displacement, adding millions of gallons of homegrown fuel and reducing demand for high-cost oil. Thanks to higher ethanol blends such as E15 – often marketed as Unleaded 88 – ethanol has resulted in a savings of $57 million across the U.S. when prices were highest this summer, while also reducing carbon and tailpipe emissions.
The science has advanced to the point where we no longer have to choose between providing consumers with affordable fuel options, meeting food and feed demand and pursuing our environmental goals. Further expanding access to higher ethanol blends is a step forward that would set a positive example for the rest of the world at COP and beyond.