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July 07, 2017   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

City Leaders Take Climate Action by Leveraging Clean Diesel

Cities are pressing ahead with ambitious actions on climate change and clean diesel technology will be a critical component to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide vital city services.

Using renewable diesel fuel in city muni-fleets like San Francisco slashes fleet CO2 emissions by 80%.

Replacing older diesel truck with new clean diesel saves 960 gallons of diesel fuel/year. 

Cities are pressing ahead with ambitious actions on climate change and clean diesel technology will be a critical component to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide vital city services. Mayors and municipal leaders representing cities across America are finding that immediate and positive steps can be taken to reduce carbon footprints and lower emissions by modernizing their fleets. Investments in clean diesel technology is a cost effective investment strategy. Here, the recent settlement with VW may prove essential to reduce emissions sooner than anticipated as $2.9 billion will be available to help municipalities purchase new vehicles and equipment and clean diesel will deliver the most benefit for the dollar.    

New Diesel Engines Deliver GHG Reductions for NYC

New York City maintains one of the largest fleets in the world and diesel technology powers most of the 16,800 work trucks and off-road equipment. Switching to new diesel equipment can help reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions and the City is planning to do just that. According to the City’s Clean Fleet Plan replacing older heavy-duty vehicles and equipment with new models, including clean diesel models, will contribute the most to anticipated greenhouse gas emission reduction from the entire fleet of cars and heavy-duty vehicles and equipment.

Consider that replacing a single older medium-duty truck that includes refuse haulers, dump trucks, bucket trucks and other vehicle types that provide essential services, with a new diesel model can reduce CO2 emission by 3.4 tons and save 340 gallons of fuel in a single year. Replacing a single older heavy-duty truck with a new diesel model can reduce CO2 emissions by 9.8 tons and save 960 gallons of fuel in a single year. Multiplying these benefits that accrue to replacing a single vehicle over the size of the entire fleet can have enormous fuel savings and greenhouse gas emission reductions.

California Cities Switch to Renewable Diesel Fuel

A long and growing list of California cities are making the switch to operate their fleets of vehicles and equipment on renewable diesel fuel. San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, Walnut Creek, and many others announced initiatives to power heavy-duty vehicles and equipment exclusively with renewable diesel fuel.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) renewable diesel fuel and biodiesel are considered and advanced biofuels capable of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent. Renewable diesel fuel can cut emissions by about 80 percent. In addition to the fuel’s greenhouse gas reduction benefits, renewable diesel fuel is produced in such a way that it meets the same technical specifications as petroleum diesel fuel. This means that fleets may use the fuel as a replacement for petroleum-based fuel with no modifications to engines or components like fuel filters or any additional service schedules. 

The California Energy Commission estimates that by 2020, over 400 million gallons of renewable diesel fuel will be consumed in the state as more municipalities and business across California make the switch.

Clean Diesel Delivering the Most of the VW Settlement for City Fleets

Included in the settlement with VW is a $2.9 billion trust for states to replace older vehicles and equipment with new models and vehicles and equipment owned by government fleets are eligible to be replaced at 100 percent of the cost. Mayors and city administrators across the country are waiting intently to apply for funding to replace their fleets. While the intent of the trust is to mitigate emission of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), replacing older vehicles and equipment with the latest technologies will also greatly contribute to fuel savings and greenhouse gas emission reductions.  Both U.S. DOT and EPA have run the numbers and determined that, when it comes to reducing NOx emissions, clean diesel remains the most cost effective strategy. The latest clean diesel models also come with advanced fuel sipping technologies that will reduce emissions and lessen the carbon footprint.  Greenhouse gas emissions reductions are even greater when fueled with advanced biofuels.

As more municipalities consider strategies to meet their pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, clean diesel technology is a ready partner to contribute to climate commitments.


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Ezra Finkin
Director, Policy

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