As I was readying myself for the day, I became vaguely aware of an item on the news. A man filling up his car with petrol at a garage was being interviewed about how he felt about the introduction of E10 petrol from today, 1st September. Perhaps understandably the man looked a little nonplussed and replied he wasn’t aware of any changes or what E10 was about. When I heard the statistics from the reporter, I was surprised that there had not been more coverage on both the timing of this change but also the impact and rationale for making the change. The transition could be worth a reduction of up to 750,000 tonnes of CO2, “the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road.” Surely this has to be a positive story or at very least a step in the right direction and, if that is the case, why has this not been more widely reported?
On reading more about the change I can see why the Government may have been a bit hesitant about making a fuss about the transition. This is an EU standard that was introduced back in 2011. Being a decade late to the party might take a little shine off what should otherwise be a positive innovation. Also, the jury is out on the beneficial impact it will have on reducing climate change. The E10 refers to the unleaded fuel containing 10% plant-based bio ethanol, mixed with regular fossil fuel petrol. The manufacturing process for ethanol is less environmentally damaging than standard petroleum products, although there are additional but different environmental and social impacts arising from the agricultural activity. As a renewable source that can be derived from a range of biomaterials, presumably there is greater potential to ‘localise’ production of ethanol and thereby reduce the carbon emitting activities linked to the transportation of the fuel to pump. Although the cynic in me doubts this is happening. Apparently, seaweed is a potential source and we must have plenty of that?!
I don’t know if my unconscious biases are kicking in here, but I get the sense that there is a societal coalescence around believing that we need to be ‘doing our bit’ to reduce carbon emissions, if we are to stand any chance of altering the course of climate change. I find it particularly surprising then that this change at the petrol pumps was not more broadly announced. The UK seeks to reduce carbon emissions by 78% by 2035 and is looking to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. So, there is obviously a plan out there, of which I would hope and imagine today’s move was a part – albeit a small one. Should we not be be flagging, perhaps even celebrating, each step along the way if for no other reason but to highlight the grand plan and emphasize the role we can all play in that plan?