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  • Engine Technology Forum

COP28: Achieving a pragmatic energy transition with advanced engines, renewable biofuels



The assessment of progress toward meeting international climate-change goals, the value of commitments, and near-term reductions in carbon are at the forefront of deliberations at the 28th meeting of the United Nations Council of the Parties (COP28) underway in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.



Increasingly the size and scope of the climate challenges are becoming clearer, with all signs pointing toward the need for a diverse set of solutions—in both policy and technology.



As H.E. Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the president-designate for COP28 UAE said, “Together, we will prioritize efforts to accelerate emissions reductions through a pragmatic energy transition, reform land use, and transform food systems.”



Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Engine Technology Forum, said, “A pragmatic energy transition begins with the understanding that we must continue to utilize and optimize our existing energy systems, even as we accelerate efforts to develop new fuels and technology options for a reduced-carbon future that relies less on fossil fuels.”



The possibility for a new energy economy built on renewable electric power and new fuels like hydrogen holds equally great potential and uncertainty of success, according to Schaeffer.



“There is an increasing, and shared, recognition that such a shift to a new energy economy will be uneven both in duration and effect,” he said.



Until then, Schaeffer added, the global economy must continue to function by enabling mobility, providing power, and working the land to serve the growing global population.



“Internal-combustion engines function at the intersection of our two energy worlds—utilizing abundant energy from fossil fuels and cleaner energy from renewable fuels,” Schaeffer said. “They are uniquely suited to leverage the best of both worlds, the role that they are playing today.”



One out of every two economic sectors depend on internal-combustion engines and fossil fuels.



Trucks, trains, buses, marine workboats, as well as agricultural, forestry, mining and construction equipment rely almost exclusively on diesel technology.



“Even as new fuels and technologies emerge, internal-combustion engines will be best suited and continue to serve many of these key sectors for decades to come,” Schaeffer said. “This makes continued advancements in internal-combustion engines and fuels essential to the kind of progress needed, both near term and long term, in meeting global climate goals.”



Schaeffer said carbon reductions must be valued “in whatever form they come,” and all opportunities for investment should be recognized.



“There is an undisputed time value to carbon removal in the near term,” Schaeffer said. “Substituting an increasing percentage of low-carbon renewable biodiesel fuels for fossil fuels across the population of millions of existing diesel engines, vehicles and equipment is proven to yield valuable and immediate reductions in greenhouse gases as well as other emissions. These benefits are achievable in a relatively short time frame at lower cost compared to that required to introduce new technologies and their supporting fuel infrastructures. We cannot deny developed or developing countries the opportunity for progress. Tackling the multiple challenges of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, as well as implementing adaptation and mitigation measures, ultimately requires many technologies and solutions. It only makes sense that we leverage the best of what we have available from internal-combustion engines using advanced renewable biofuels as new fuel and energy technologies emerge.”

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