Same CO2 but ‘greener’ label for proposed UK petrol change

Posted: March 4, 2020 by oldbrew in Emissions, government
Tags: ,

E10 petrol still emits carbon dioxide (CO2) when burned, just as biomass fuelled power stations do. So if there really was a ‘climate emergency’ this proposed change would have zero immediate effect on it. The report claims E10 ‘contains less carbon and more ethanol than fuels currently on sale’, but that’s negligible. What happens is that they offset the burned CO2 against CO2 captured when crops used to make the ethanol are grown. But the land used for ethanol production was probably used for agriculture before that anyway, so the argument is weak to say the least. But governments love their greenwash.
– – –
A more eco-friendly petrol could be introduced to garages in the UK from next year, says BBC News.

The government is consulting on making E10 – which contains less carbon and more ethanol than fuels currently on sale – the new standard petrol grade.

The move could cut CO2 emissions from transport by 750,000 tonnes per year, the Department for Transport said.

However, the lower carbon fuel would not be compatible with some older vehicles.

Current petrol grades in the UK – known as E5 – contain up to 5% bioethanol.

E10 would see this percentage increased up to 10% – a proportion that would bring the UK in line with countries such as Belgium, Finland, France and Germany.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to chair his first cabinet committee on climate change on Wednesday.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the change in petrol could be equivalent to taking up to 350,000 cars off the road each year.

“The next 15 years will be absolutely crucial for slashing emissions from our roads, as we all start to feel the benefits of the transition to a zero-emission future,” he said.

“But before electric cars become the norm, we want to take advantage of reduced CO2 emissions today. This small switch to petrol containing bioethanol at 10% will help drivers across country reduce the environmental impact of every journey.”

Full report here.

  1. oldbrew says:

    Auto Express says:
    E10 can also cause some seals, gaskets, metals and plastics to corrode in unsuitable vehicles. The 2 per cent reduction in carbon emissions that a switch to E10 petrol would bring also needs to be taken into consideration alongside fuel consumption because E10 is thought to decrease fuel economy anywhere from 1.5 to 3 per cent.

    So it’s empty virtue signalling, and for many pre-2011 cars won’t work anyway.

  2. JB says:

    It would be amusing, were it not for the whiplash effects that introduce chaos into every facet of life, to watch legislators and bureaucracies try to out-engineer the balancing act that competent engineers strive for in their daily efforts.

    What is the actual production and delivered cost of E10 compared to gasoline? How much does its use increase the production cost of vehicles capable of equal maintenance schedules on regular gasoline? Over the useful life of the vehicle, how much ethanol will be consumed vs gasoline, and what is the net emissions effect?

    If CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is 0.04%, how much is the juice (E10) worth the economic and physical squeeze with only a 2% gain on its reduction, offset by an increase of up to 3% in fuel consumption? Indeed, how many legislators were highly competent in solving these kinds of mathematical riddles while being indoctrinated by public education?

    I used to run propane in a large vehicle, primarily to reduce the driving cost when there was a large differential in purchase cost between regular gas and CG. Turned out that over all, there was not really a net savings,considering the fuel tax permit, component & installation cost, and operational headaches. There was a good reason for it being used by large fleet operators, as they could amortize the extra infrastructure required against the reduction in vehicle maintenance. As soon as that purchase cost differential diminished, interest in running CG disappeared. Indeed, the last time I operated my vehicle on CG was on a long-haul move, and CG was running 120% of regular fuel (1997). The only reason I withstood the higher CG cost was I needed to travel longer distances without fuel stops before the sun went down, or I would end up paying high per diem overhead.

  3. oldbrew says:

    as we all start to feel the benefits of the transition to a zero-emission future

    The usual trick of trying to sell CO2 reduction as some kind of environmental policy, sweeping the unpopular – or at least disputed – climate argument under the carpet.

    What are these ‘benefits’ supposed to be, as far as CO2 is concerned?
    – – –
    MARCH 4, 2020
    EU commission unveils climate law amid criticism

    With its proposals, the EU’s executive arm wants to make its ambition of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to zero by mid-century irreversible, and legally-binding for all member states.

    Expect unintended (?) consequences.

  4. cognog2 says:

    The statement that some 750,000 tonnes of CO2 per year would be saved in the transport sector by this move is an outright lie. All it is is an accounting definition which is in itself nonsense. In fact the same amount if not more CO2 will be emitted from the tailpipes of vehicles using this fuel.
    It is the Drax manipulative accounting trick all over again.

  5. Coeur de Lion says:

    I’m continuing to use my diesel Citroen Picasso. I simply can’t understand why I’m only paying £20 a year road tax if it’s so AWFUL? Much less than many petrol owners I know. Oh, of course, I have ADBLU in a tank under the spare wheel. Why isn’t this widely publicised? Btw is the Government banning imports of ICE cars? Even for foreign tourists? My wife is three quarters Irish. A weird ill thought out nightmare.

  6. chaswarnertoo says:

    The Gubmint appears insane.

  7. Stuart Brown says:

    For anyone interested the consultation documents are here:

    That took me to the results of the earlier 2018 consultation on whether E10 was even a good idea, which contains this:
    ‘2.15 Those involved in fuel retail also raised the issue of consumer acceptance. It was
    suggested that encouraging consumer uptake of E10 would be challenging while E5
    in the premium grade remained widely available. As a result, introducing E10 in this
    manner could lead to a very low uptake, similar to that experienced in Germany,
    where E10 accounts for only around 10% of the market.’

    So even the Germans, given the choice, would prefer not to have it! We will have it forced on us because the consensus of fuel retailers and government seems to be that it needs doing so urgently that forecourts cannot be fitted out to supply 3 different kinds of petrol.

    I’m keeping my Toyota diesel for a bit longer probably.

  8. Damian says:

    Great plan to get the infernal combustion engines vehicles off the road.
    Start selling petrol which will half the life of the engines.
    Of course, this also takes a fair percentage of the Worlds food crop and turns it into something other than food, increasing food prices and starvation. Although the eco nutters will doubtless blame any of the adverse effects on the climate crisis.

  9. Gamecock says:

    U.S. is full tilt E-10. Obama tried to force E-15.

    Did $650 damage to my outboard motor. Now I buy only ethanol free (at premium price).

  10. stpaulchuck says:


    I lost a really good gas lawn trimmer to the alcohol nuts. One day all the gaskets let loose peeing gasoline all over the ground. Cost to rebuild the motor was too much. Bought an 18 volt unit instead.

    Had boat motor issues as well. Wound up having the carbs rebuilt and all fuel lines replaced. Now I ONLY use 91 octane pure gasoline. A couple stations in the area have it on a special pump. Minnesota has tons of street rods that would self destruct from the alcohol eating fuel lines and gaskets.

    Oh yeah, the gas stations all had to put in new tanks as the alcohol attracts water which settles into the bottom of the tanks rusting them out. Ditto for older car gas tanks.

  11. oldbrew says:

    How long before the internet upsets the climate loons?

    Dirty streaming: The internet’s big secret

    With the launch of streaming services from Disney and Apple, the rollout of 5G and the growth in cryptocurrencies, experts are warning about the impact this huge rise in data use could have on the environment.

    There are now hundreds of thousands of data centres around the world, storing everything from viral videos to doctors’ notes and even bank account details. Many of them run on electricity generated by burning fossil fuels.

    Film and TV writer Beth Webb went in search of the internet and discovered that ‘the cloud’ is actually a vast network of energy-guzzling data centres and undersea cables.

    ‘Dirty Streaming: The Internet’s Big Secret’ will be available on BBC Three on iPlayer from Thursday 5 March 2020.
    – – –
    Many of them run on electricity generated by burning fossil fuels
    How dare they? 😮

  12. oldbrew says:

    Sherelle Jacobs on the warpath again at the Telegraph today…

    The political storm over green targets will be even bigger than Brexit

    Just when we thought the war was over, it is starting to dawn on some London hacks that it has only just begun. Beyond the Red Wall are rumblings of a new revolt, utterly unanticipated by No 10 and overlooked by a liberal media still shell-shocked by the election. With its drive to “green” the economy at any cost, the Tory party has seemingly decided to celebrate its populist landslide by bogging down the country in zero-carbon paternalism. And so we career towards another People vs Establishment conflict that could be more explosive even than that sparked by the referendum.
    [paywall after first few paras.]
    UPDATE: full text here
    [H/T Philip Bratby]

    Quote: People did not vote to take back control only to surrender to an even more imperious and destructive strain of metropolitan ideology.
    – – –
    People are being forced to pay for two electricity systems, one based on fuels and one based mostly on intermittent natural factors i.e. wind and daylight.

  13. E10 has been used in Australia for many years. At the petrol pump it is cheaper by 2c eg standard 91 octane cost $A1.35/l and E10 (supposed to be 94 octane) is $A1.33/l. However, the E10 fuel consumption is higher and it gives less power especially noticeable if pulling a caravan. I might use E10 around town every second refill because it helps clean the injects. In the country and if pulling a trailer or caravan I stick to standard fuel. BTW I have a Subaru Forester which has about 340,000km on the clock (many trips in the country and often with the van. My wife has a VW Tiguan (4 wheel drive auto & about 90,000km) which also pulls the van now. Same experience with E10.

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