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Low Carbon Fuels: Transforming Transportation for a More Sustainable Future

What are low carbon fuels?


Watch video in Spanish: ¿Qué Son Los Combustibles Bajos En Carbono?


Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide can trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere. This can lead to extreme weather, such as hurricanes, droughts, and increased wildfires. And that can leave vulnerable communities with destroyed infrastructure, lower health outcomes, billions of dollars in damages, and instability.

The number-one source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. is transportation. One way to reduce these emissions is using low carbon fuels to power our cars, trucks, planes, delivery vans, and other vehicles.

So what are low carbon fuels?  They are transportation fuels that release less carbon dioxide into the air when burned than traditional fuels like gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. One example of a low carbon fuel is electricity, which can power electric vehicles and hybrids.  And electricity is not the only example. There are many options for low carbon fuels, including biofuels, which can power the millions of gas-powered vehicles already on the road today, and hydrogen, which requires new vehicle technology.

Officials in Washington, D.C. and state capitals are considering policies for cleaner fuels.  A growing number of states now have low carbon fuel standards that aim to decrease the carbon intensity of transportation fuels, while increasing the range of fuel choices for consumers.

Consumer Reports is taking a close look at low carbon fuels — or LCFs, as some people like to call them.  We do not prefer or endorse one type of fuel over another.  We are interested in consumers having choices, and having information about the options available today. 

This online hub provides information about different types of LCFs and the kinds of vehicles and technologies that can use these fuels.  We explore how we can shape policies to make these fuels better for consumers and easier to adopt. Below you’ll find survey data, fact sheets, white papers, and more content about LCFs, and how they could be a solution for a more sustainable transportation future.

If you could like to learn more about low carbon fuel standards, contact CR’s Dr. Quinta Warren at quinta.warren@consumer.org


Consumer Reports and Politico hosted an hour-long discussion about the drive toward cleaner fuels.  The event took place in Washington, D.C., on November 15, 2023.  Watch the live event here.




Consumer Reports: Low Carbon Fuels White Paper

To reduce overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, we must use a variety of tools to help bring cleaner technologies to the market. This white paper provides information about low carbon fuels (LCFs) and comparisons of the carbon dioxide reduction for different types of LCFs — both commercial fuels and others under development.  It also provides broad policy principles for low carbon fuel standards. Read CR’s report on low carbon fuels and policy principle recommendations for a cleaner future. 

Consumer Reports: Low Carbon Fuel Standards and an Equitable Transition to Clean Transportation

This report provides an analysis of how low carbon fuel standards can be utilized to facilitate an equitable transition to clean transportation. The report draws on the experiences of states such as California, Oregon, and Washington, which have successfully implemented these standards, and which direct a portion of the revenues generated from these standards to drive adoption of clean vehicle technologies and infrastructure in overburdened communities. This report offers recommendations for the development of future low carbon fuel standards, emphasizing their potential for fostering sustainable and equitable transportation practices. Read CR’s report on how low carbon fuel standards can lead to an equitable transition to clean transportation.

Consumer Reports Low Carbon Fuels Survey

In January and February 2022, Consumer Reports conducted a nationally representative multi-mode survey. The purpose of the survey was to gauge Americans’ perspectives and concerns regarding the transportation industry’s impact on the environment and their willingness to make environmentally-friendly transportation choices. The survey assessed Americans’ awareness about and desire to use low carbon fuel in vehicles and aviation when they become available. View CR’s survey findings.

Consumer Reports Low Carbon Fuels Fact Sheets

There’s a lot of conversation today about the need for “cleaner transportation” in the United States. That’s because transportation is the leading source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, mostly from burning gasoline for our cars and light trucks. Low carbon fuels (LCFs) are transportation fuels that produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than traditional fuels like gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. Learn more about what LCFs are, how consumers can use them to significantly reduce emissions, and how policies can be used to make them more accessible:

Consumer Reports Low Carbon Fuels Webinars

“Cleaner Transportation: EVs, Low Carbon Fuels, and Beyond” Webinar

Consumer Reports invited consumers for a discussion on the future of cleaner transportation. Topics included the prospects for low carbon fuels that can power everything from cars to airplanes and cargo ships today to the growing number of electric and hybrid vehicles on our roads. Watch and share CR’s webinar.

“Cleaner Fuels For A Cleaner Future” Webinar

Transportation is the top contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. But what can consumers do to help reduce vehicle emissions? Are there options beyond buying electric vehicles?

In this webinar Consumer Reports experts discuss cleaner ways to power our vehicles. Learn about actions at the state and federal levels to invest in cleaner technologies like biofuels, hydrogen and electricity. These new efforts will help drive innovation, cut carbon emissions, and protect consumers’ wallets from spiraling gas prices. It’s time to transition away from gasoline and diesel, and invest in low-carbon fuel options.

Low Carbon Fuels: Explainer Videos

What is Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)?

What are Hydrogen Vehicles?

What are Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs)?


Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan organization. Our work on low carbon fuel standards is made possible in part by a grant from the environment-focused philanthropic group Breakthrough Energy.