(European Commission, 2007) Means of achievement: The carbon dioxide target must be achieved through technological developments and market changes linked to these developments. (European Commission, 2007) Given this reduction commitment agreed by not only UK but most car producing countries like Japan and US as well, there are still news that most carmakers still fail at accomplishing these commitments.
In a publication of the European Federation for Transport and the Environment (T&E), an environmental organisation campaigning specifically on transport, last October 25, 2006 it announced that Nissan, Suzuki, Mazda, Audi, Volvo, BMW and Volkswagen are the worst performers among a group of 20 manufacturers surveyed by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) for T&E, the European Federation for Transport and the Environment( European Federation for Transport and the Environment, 2006).
T&E also reported that 75% of carmakers are failing to cut emissions fast enough(European Federation for Transport and the Environment, 2006). There are only three carmakers that are successful in fully achieving their individual targets ” Fiat, Citroen and Renault. Ford and Peugeot almost achieved their targets (European Federation for Transport and the Environment, 2006). Production of light, small engine cars does not favor most of the automotive industry especially in EU member countries since their production is commonly geared towards large luxury cars with enormous horsepower.
Claims of car manufacturers suggest that implementing the reduction in emission will threaten the industry and will result in closure of a lot of factories specifically in Germany (Webster, 2007). The car manufacturers, especially in Germany, in return proposed for an integrated approach in dealing with the problem of GHG emission and eventually meeting the targets based on the Kyoto Protocol. They proposed for an increase in the use of alternative fuels such as biofuels (EurActive, 2005) and a comprehensive education/information campaign for motorist for fuel efficient driving.
Three alternative fuel solutions which could be a viable substitute for petroleum based fuel and these are: road fuel gases LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and CNG (compressed natural gas), bio-fuels and, more distantly, hydrogen fuels, including methanol; fuel cells, and electric vehicles. The competitiveness of Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs) compared with conventional vehicles will depend on a range of factors including ease of refuelling, comparative fuel costs and duty, engine lifetimes, performance and manufacturing costs (Brevitt, 2002).
Vehicles could use hydrogen in a variety of ways; with minor alterations all conventional internal combustion engines (ICEs) powered by petrol can be made to burn hydrogen directly. The major stumbling block is the lack of infrastructure for the storage and distribution of hydrogen. Pure methanol can potentially offer reductions in emissions of major air pollutants compared with existing diesel fuels, but it is poisonous, and in the longer term, the main benefit is likely to be as an input fuel for fuel cells (Brevitt, 2002).
Fuel cells convert the energy stored in a fuel (for example hydrogen) into electrical energy by a simple electrochemical reaction in which oxygen and hydrogen combine to form water (Center for Fuel Cells, 2007, , Energy Research, 2007). Each fuel cell type, classified according to the nature of the electrolyte, requires particular materials and fuels and is suitable for different applications (Energy Research, 2007).
If hydrogen is derived from non-fossil sources, such as renewables, or if waste CO2 from fossil fuel hydrogen production is sequestered, then fuel cells offer the prospect of zero emission power for transport and stationary applications (Brevitt, 2002). Biofuels produce less carbon dioxide and other pollutants. Hence, using biofuels will result to less air pollution (Energy Research, 2007). Biofuels are also biodegradable. It also brings new markets for agriculture, especially attractive for new member states. Moreover, it can be used with existing technologies and no new infrastructure needed.
A problem arising in using biofuels is the higher costs than traditional fossil fuels (it would take an oil price of â‚¬70 per barrel to make biofuels break even with conventional fuels and limited availability of land for energy crops if they were to replace fossil fuels (EurActive, 2005). UKs commitment is to reduce emissions as targeted in the Kyoto Protocol. It is not identified within the agreement how cuts are to be made or where the cuts should come from. The United Kingdoms pronouncement on aiming for a 20 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 was bombarded with opposition from manufacturers.
Hence, a realistic and integrated approach should be looked upon to and this does not exclude the proposal on the use of smaller engine vehicles to reduce GHG emissions. Many countries of the world have made firm commitments to take aggressive action to develop biofuels as alternatives to petroleum products that are utilized as major energy sources. With the development and deployment of pertinent technological advances, biofuels are expected to bring considerable economic and environmental benefits.
Biofuels can provide major air quality benefits through the reduction of greenhouse gas emission. This is for the reason that biofuels does not contain sulphur thus air pollution reduction targets can be achieved rather than using petroleum-based fuels. Biofuels can be cost competitive with gasoline and diesel. The economic savings (particularly in terms of foreign exchange for fuel importation) with biofuels can be considerable even with subsidies. By 2015, biofuels can be produced at costs equal to that of gasoline ($0. 59 to $0.91 per gallon) and diesel ($0. 86 per gallon).
Biofuels will provide a major new source of revenue for farmers. The investment in agriculture for food and energy purposes shall benefit the farmers in terms of improved productivity and better quality produce. Increase in workplaces and real incomes are anticipated based on the experiences in Brazil and the United States of America. Biofuels offer major land-use benefits. Energy crops can be planted with the other plants, and unused marginal lands can be made productive for energy purposes.