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Call for more homogeneous sustainability legislation

Legislation is necessary to encourage the sustainable development of fuels and lubricants in a timely manner. Though, it needs to be the right legislation. Eric Holthusen, chief technology officer at Petronas Lubricants International, has called for more homogenous legislation across all jurisdictions. The industry requires clear and stable policies that do not switch over short periods. Holthusen, speaking yesterday as part of an expert panel on “Sustainable Mobility – Fuels and Lubricants Development” at F+L Week Virtual 2021, cited the example of a hydrogen-fuelled internal combustion engine, which would be considered a zero-emissions vehicle in Europe, but not in the United States.
Legislators should also be restricted to setting the targets, they should not define the way, says Holthusen. The legislative framework provides important security for lubricant manufacturers. Targets need to be technology-neutral, allowing the industry to devise the most appropriate solutions. Banning the internal combustion engine (ICE) is a barrier to innovation, he says. Although, it appears the die has been cast with respect to lighter vehicles. Passenger cars are likely to go electric, and possibly fuel cells. Opportunity remains in the heavy-duty sector. We know today that bigger engines can realise zero-carbon emission with hydrogen as a fuel, says Holthusen.
Gary Parsons, an industry consultant and moderator of the sustainable mobility forum, highlighted a worrying U.S. example of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) pushing for ultra-low nitrogen oxides (NOx) trucking standards. Engine manufacturer Cummins was able to develop and certify natural gas ICEs that met CARB’s NOx standard. Nevertheless, CARB passed America’s first electric vehicle standard for trucks on 25 June 2020, mandating that commercial trucks and vans sold in the state in 2045 be zero-emission.
The sustainability panellists identified pricing as the primary barrier on the speed of transition towards sustainable fuels and lubricants. “We could do so much more in terms of sustainable products if the customer would contribute to the cost of making those products,” says Holthusen. I have yet to meet a customer who is prepared to pay more for a sustainable product, he says.