The provincially mandated amount of ethanol in gasoline and biofuel content in diesel is set to rise in Manitoba.
An integral part of the province’s climate plan, the required amount of ethanol in gasoline will increase Jan. 1 to 9.25 per cent (from 8.5 per cent); for biofuel content in diesel fuel, it will increase to 3.5 per cent (from two per cent).
These mandated increases will climb further on Jan. 1, 2022, to 10 per cent and five per cent, respectively.
“We are taking the steps necessary to meet our (greenhouse gas) reduction targets, and have extensively worked with and consulted stakeholders,” Minister of Conservation and Climate Sarah Guillemard said Tuesday.
Ethanol and the use of biofuels has been hotly debated policy for years, with critics saying the measures do little to decrease emissions.
The burning of ethanol or biofuels still emits carbon dioxide. The benefit of burning these types of fuels comes from the fact the carbon emitted comes from plants in the biosphere, and theoretically displaces some of the demand for fossil fuels (which involves dredging carbon up from the geosphere).
However, a 2016 study published in Energy Policy, and spearheaded by researchers from the University of Minnesota, found “clean fuel” policies in the United States had the opposite effect.
“Increasing supply (of low-carbon alternatives) tends to lower energy prices, which encourages additional fuel consumption,” the study reads.
Despite its shortcomings, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in 2018, with the release of its report considering what it would take to limit global warming to 1.5 C, said bioenergy would largely be necessary to reach emissions-reductions targets.
However, the need for crops to meet this growing need for biofuels globally, “if poorly managed, can compete with food production and hence raise food security concerns,” the report says.
Biofuel policies are also meant to lower emissions while transitions to lower-carbon choices occur, such as electric vehicles. Electric vehicles are also mentioned in the provincial climate plan, however, only 138 EVs were sold in Manitoba in 2019, according to Statistics Canada.
The province estimates biofuel policies will lower GHG emissions by 0.1 megatonnes annually.
“The war against climate change cannot be waged by one industry alone,” said NDP environment and climate change critic Lisa Naylor. “The government should offer supports to industries, like long-haul trucking, to move towards electrification and should continue to keep Manitoba Hydro public to ensure electric power remains affordable.”
Sarah Lawrynuik reports on climate change for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for the Free Press climate change reporter comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.