Environment & Savings (source: WLPGA)
LPG is the most widely used alternative fuel for road transport. Autogas powers more than 10 million vehicles in over 54 countries worldwide, and offers an immediate, concrete way to improve air quality, especially in urban areas. In terms of air-borne emissions of the principal regulated noxious gases, autogas is among the lowest emitters of all automotive fuels available, with scientific testing suggesting that autogas produces 50 per cent less carbon monoxide, 40 per cent less hydrocarbons, 35 per cent less nitrogen oxides and 50 per cent less ozone-forming substances compared to gasoline. This has both environmental and health benefits. Autogas can also play an important role in mitigating climate change. For example, autogas can produce on average 20 per cent less CO2 equivalent to gasoline when total emissions from well to wheel are taken into consideration. When tailpipe emission levels alone are tested, autogas produces up to 15 per cent fewer emissions. In France, recent technology innovation has led to a hybrid electric-autogas vehicle that emits 92 g/km of CO2, and developers expect this level to decrease to below 90 g/km which would represent the lowest level available on the market. In addition, autogas is mitigating airborne emissions not only in many of the world’s most polluted cities, including Beijing, Mumbai and Bangalore but also in European cities, including Vienna, Warsaw and Istanbul.
Despite significant domestic use in several economies, LPG remains little known by key stakeholders and policy-makers. As a hydrocarbon, LPG is often disregarded as it does not fit into the renewables category, however, LPG is cleaner than other fossil fuels and is a suitable fuel to back-up intermittent renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. LPG can help the shift towards a “low-carbon” economy because LPG features significantly lower GHG emissions than other commercially available fossil fuels such as coal, light and heavy petroleum fuels and natural gas in some applications. Moreover, LPG exhibits significantly lower GHG emissions over traditional fuels such as biogas, kerosene, charcoal, dung cake and wood used for cooking and home heating by billions of people in the developing world. Thus, there is a good case for government support to the LPG sector in developing countries, based particularly on the positive contribution the fuel can make to more sustainable energy use. Government policies and measures can strongly influence LPG market development and active government support can catalyse LPG market take-off and establish a virtuous circle of growing market potential, increased investment and expanded availability. In Brazil, penetration of LPG services was aided substantially by government programmes and subsidies over three decades, during which LPG subsidies helped to keep energy prices stable. The results of the programme were dramatic, allowing LPG use to rise from 18 per cent nationwide in 1960 to 98 per cent of households in 2004. The penetration at 93 per cent of households in rural areas is particularly impressive given the difficulty of reaching remote low-density populations. Since market deregulation in 2001, the government assists low-income families to purchase LPG through a voucher system. The programme benefits are available only to families with a monthly income per capita that is no more than half the minimumwage income.
In order to support the achievement of critical energy-related sustainable development goals, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in collaboration with WLPGA, has initiated The LP Gas Rural Energy Challenge. This is a public-private partnership (PPP) for energy services provision involving governments, UNDP country offices, private sector entitieslocal communities and non-governmental organisations. Building upon the individual strengths of the partners involved, the objective of the initiative is to bring LPG to peri-urban and rural populations by addressing two critical issues: availability and affordability. Since the launch at the Johannesburg Summit 2002, the LP Gas Rural Energy Challenge has been active in six countries: Ghana, Honduras, Morocco, South Africa, Vietnam and China. The global LPG industry continues to take an interest in development issues and will continue the Challenge for another three-year period.
Convinced of the role that LPG can play in helping to achieve sustainable development goals, the LPG industry is looking forward to forging new forms of PPPs aimed at responding to the challenge of rural and peri-urban energisation and the need to deliver LPG in developing countries worldwide. The industry is particularly interested in developing key partnerships with local microfinance institutions, and in particular, the WLPGA will be launching a microfinance pilot programme in Morocco. This collaboration between the local LPG operators, a national microfinance institution and the UNDP field office will address the upfront cost of LPG equipment, which is a key barrier to developing LPG markets in rural and peri-urban areas. Thanks to its portability, LPG can also serve an important role in disaster relief. The LPG industry partnered with UNHCR to donate LPG packages to a transitional shelter in Sri Lanka. However, efforts to help the tsunami victims revealed that the industry was not prepared for large-scale aid interventions and that aid agencies were unfamiliar with the product. In 2006, the LPG industry would like to form partnerships with NGOs and international agencies active in disaster relief.
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