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Car-Free Day: Could Biotech Make It a Thing of the Past?

Cornelia Poku
Cornelia Poku
September 20, 2021

The U.S. transportation sector leads all other sectors in greenhouse gas emissions. September 22 is International Car Free day, a day when folks make a pledge to walk or use public transportation with the goal of bringing about clearer skies and less traffic for one day.

But what if we didn’t need a car-free day to promote sustainable transportation. Because let’s face it, our nation’s public transportation can have its days.

Today, thanks to biotechnology, fuel producers are harnessing the power of crops like canola and soybeans, municipal solid waste, corn, and even algae to produce low-carbon fuels. 

Sustainable fuels like ethanol already emit 43% fewer emissions than gasoline, which is equivalent to taking about 7.34 million cars off the road for a whole year. And fuels developed from other biomass sources can acheive carbon neutrality. 

And we’re not far away from sustainable aviation fuels that produce little to zero carbon emissions.

Moreover, biotechnology provides an immediate solution to our nation’s emissions woes, including the ability to adapt to our nation’s existing fuel infrastructure and be used in air travel—a luxury electricity does not have.  

Though sources for biofuels are plentiful, however, it’s still not the predominant means of powering our things.

To encourage the adoption of sustainable fuels, a national low carbon fuel standard is needed.

As of this writing, only three states have them: California, Oregon, and Washington. Low carbon fuel standards help reduce the greenhouse gasses in transportation and other industries by developing a formalized method to assess each fuel’s carbon footprint—from its sourcing to the way it’s used. This assessment helps producers find ways to decrease the fuel’s footprint along the supply chain eventually making a much bigger sustainable impact.

Until laws are strengthened around sustainable fuels, it looks like the car companies may take things into their own hands.

Legacy car manufacturer GM announced at the top of the year that they would phase out all traditionally-powered vehicles by 2035 which is a huge step to take and will put pressure on their peers.

But until the day every car is powered by sustainable fuels, let’s all commit to doing what we can to clear the roads and the skies.