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Earth Day 2019

Successful Pursuit of Climate, Energy and Clean Air Goals in Key Sectors Requires Advanced New Technology Diesel Power

April 16, 2019 (WASHINGTON) – An Earth Day message from the desk of Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, an organization representing the world’s leaders in clean diesel technology:

One could say that every day is Earth Day in the diesel industry.

Today’s diesel technologies, at work in commercial vehicles, farm and construction equipment, and other vehicles, are a driving force behind clean air improvements and reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Thanks to continuous improvement and decades of innovation, these engines deliver today’s progress and tomorrow’s opportunities.

Over the last decade, diesel technology has been transformed. Modern diesel engines use energy more efficiently and achieve nearer-to-zero emissions. What hasn’t changed: diesel’s durable, reliable and efficient performance; its economical ownership and operation; and diesel’s expansive service and fueling networks. These traits ensure diesel will remain a proven asset for future generations, delivering the public and private services our growing economy demands.

The newest generation of diesel engines, deployed with ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, offer a proven, cost-effective, energy-efficient, near-zero-emission power choice. When paired with advanced renewable biodiesel fuels – a simple fuel switch – diesel engines deliver immediate GHG emissions reductions across the entire fleet, without any investments in new fueling infrastructure or new vehicles.

The progress made in reducing emissions by the new generation of diesel technology is substantial. Consider that:

  • It would take more than 60 of today’s heavy-duty diesel trucks to equal the emissions of a single truck manufactured in the 1990s.
  • Today, nearly 40 percent of all new commercial trucks on U.S. roads rely on the newest, most advanced diesel engines.
  • It would take about 25 new-generation diesel-powered backhoes or excavators to equal the emissions of a single model built in the early 2000s.

On top of producing the most fuel efficient and lowest-emitting technologies, manufacturers are using less energy and creating less waste in the manufacturing process – part of the Circular Economy. The longstanding practices of diesel engine and component remanufacturing reduce demand for more raw materials in the future. The durability of diesel engines is a valued customer attribute. Many heavy-duty engines, especially those used in workboats or trains, are rebuilt several times over their useful life, which can span decades. Most engine manufacturers have substantial remanufacturing operations which provide customers with a reliable, warrantied product and continued service, while reducing waste and manufacturing demand for raw materials.  

Diesel technology is required to achieve our climate, energy and clean air goals.

On this Earth Day 2019, diesel technology’s ability to deliver lower GHG emissions and cleaner air along with reliable and essential services cannot be ignored. Leaders around the world must recognize that, if the ambitious climate, renewable energy and clean air goals they desire are to be achieved, we must embrace advanced diesel technology in all its forms.

The pace of the energy conversation makes it easy to be confused about which fuels and technologies are at work today, and which hold promise for the future. When it comes to diesel, there are no “mays, mights or maybes” – only a proven track-record, over the broadest range of applications. Diesel delivers in every category, from public transit and school buses, to first-responder vehicles, to commuter and freight rail, to snow removal trucks and construction equipment, to waste and refuse service vehicles, to commercial trucks, to emergency backup power generators, to ferry and tug boats, and more. In many of these applications, no alternative fuel or technology is expected to be capable of delivering substantial, cost-effective benefits on the same scale for the foreseeable future.

Today’s engine and equipment makers, component suppliers and fuel producers straddle the demand for energy abundance and the clean energy future. They are innovating, exploring and developing technologies to serve the needs of their customers in the future.

Embracing innovation and exploring new technologies is paramount. At the same time, we should not lose sight of technologies, such as diesel engines, that deliver climate progress on a wide scale.

Many would be surprised to know that it is the use of renewable diesel fuel – not electrification or natural gas – that has enabled California to achieve its low carbon fuel mandates and its progress toward the global climate action plan. Moreover: By 2030, black carbon emissions attributable to diesel engines will be nearly eliminated in California, thanks to the introduction of the newest generation of diesel technology – not because of fuel switching or diesel replacements.

This is why many cities in California – OaklandSan FranciscoSacramentoSan DiegoSan Benito County and others – now exclusively use renewable diesel fuel in city-owned heavy-duty trucks, buses and equipment. These cities are reaping the cost savings and emission reductions delivered by combining new-generation diesel with renewable diesel fuel.

If we are to achieve the climate, energy and clean air goals needed to ensure our planet’s future, leaders in the United States and around the world must embrace the newest generation of diesel technologies, including ultra-low sulfur diesel and renewable diesel fuels. It is only by employing every technology at our disposal that we will be able to deliver a better tomorrow.

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