The trade association is trying to increase public awareness of the biofuel’s benefits while Canada’s future environmental policy is up for debate.
Called ‘The Fact’s Don’t Lie’ ad campaign, the group is promoting the expedient aspects of the technology. In a press release, they describe it as “the fastest and easiest way to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the transport sector”. Renewable Industries Canada (RIC) represents Canadian producers of ‘renewable fuels’.
Canada currently has an ethanol mandate of 5%, RIC would like to see this go up to 10% (E10).
Last year, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, a think tank based out of McGill University, released a report recommending the implementation of carbon pricing rather than an increased ethanol mandate or renewed subsidies, which ended earlier this year.
Dale Beugin, executive director and research director for the think tank, said in an interview that “Biofuel mandates are an expensive way to drive CO2 reductions because they are focused on a specific technology.” Instead the group proposes the implementation of carbon pricing as a more holistic way to encourage the adoption of clean energy and make emissions more expensive. He also noted that “Good carbon pricing should increase the adoption of biofuels.”
“It’s an incentive for firms or households or anybody to find other ways to do what they do: to make their businesses work, to make their cars run, to make their houses warm, through whatever technologies are available.”
“Because it isn’t technology prescriptive, it’s flexible and ends up being lower cost to the economy overall.”
However, Andrea Kent, vice president government and public relations at Greenfield Global and board member of RIC, disagreed. RIC reponded to the report at the time with their own, produced by former Ontarion Environment Comissioner, Gord Miller, which criticised Ecofiscal's methodology and conclusions.
On the campaign more specifically, she said that the time was ripe for increased public awareness of biofuels: “there’s this very very active government space right now in Canada federally and in a lot of provinces are looking at policies to tackle climate change, specifically looking at solutions that would take carbon emissions out of transportation. With that renewed interest in policy, it gives rise to historical misconceptions of biofuels, even more pointed, targeted efforts by special interest groups to advance their own policy agenda.”
Kent pointed to the success of the mandate so far, and questioned why the expedient solution and one cheap for consumers would be stopped. She did highlight the need for policies like carbon pricing, but that ethanol mandates should be a part of the world’s approach to reducing emissions.
This story was updated on 12 December 2017 to reflect the fact that RIC Canada had responded to the Ecofiscal report with its own when it was published in 2016. A statement on biofuel mandates ending in 2018 was corrected as the mandates ended earlier this year.
This article was written by Luke Acton, assistant editor of Biofuels International.