California Releases Framework for Low-Carbon Fuel Standard for Transportation

August 17, 2007

California released the first details of its Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) early this month that would require a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions from trucks and cars by 2020. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commissioned experts at the University of California to develop a plan to carry out the LCFS in an executive order issued at the beginning of 2007.

Photo of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signing a piece of paper on a table while eight people look on from behind.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs Executive Order S-01-07 in January 2007 that calls for the state to develop a low-carbon fuel standard for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from transportation.
Credit: California Governor's Office

Under the LCFS, all fuel providers would calculate the greenhouse gas emissions from their products and reduce these emissions over time. For example, fuel refiners might blend conventional fuels made from petroleum with biofuels, make their refineries more efficient, or purchase greenhouse gas emissions credits on the market.

The LCFS will cover motor fuels used for all types of transportation, except aviation. Transportation fuels in California account for more than 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

The University of California plan has national importance because if it is adopted by the California Energy Commission and the California Air Resource Board, it could become the model other states will use to meet their greenhouse gas reduction targets.

One of the authors of the proposed plan, Daniel Sperling, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California David said that California is the first in the world to develop this type of policy. "It will likely transform the energy industries," Sperling said. "And the 10 percent is just the beginning. We anticipate much greater reductions after 2020.

Read the details of the proposed LCFS, fuel cycle assessments that estimate the greenhouse gas effect of various transportations fuels over their lifetimes, and an explanation of the roles of state agencies in developing the LCFS on the California Energy Commission Web page titled Low-Carbon Fuel Standard."

For details about the plan and a link to the University of California (UC) reports, see the UC Davis August 2 news release (PDF 116 KB).