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UPS sparked a new process for evaluating alternative fuel sources.

World energy consumption is estimated to rise by around 40 percent between 2012 and 2030, our energy system is changing fundamentally, making companies’ decisions about fuel more complex and important than ever before. While clean and renewable transportation technologies are gaining ground, petroleum will remain the backbone of our useful fuel resources for decades to come. In light of this, companies must make smarter decisions about their current choices among fuels, which often will be choices within fossil fuels.

Increasingly, energy resources are being tapped from unconventional sources – from the Arctic’s icy frontier to the abundant U.S. shale gas once thought too difficult to extract – creating more pressing environmental, human rights, and other sustainability challenges. Yet, until now, companies have not had an authoritative resource to weigh the sustainability trade-offs of their current fuel decisions.

BSR’s Future of Fuels is filling that gap. This ambitious initiative – with leading experts from the private, nonprofit, public, and academic sectors – will help global companies like UPS understand the greatest sustainability impacts of their transportation fuel system, and what they can do about them.

Simply put, UPS is dependent on fuels for our vehicles, and we’re not satisfied with the fuel options we have today. A host of constraints, ranging from economics to politics to infrastructure, currently limits our choices for low-emission or no-emission fuels. We also are keenly aware of our sustainability commitment – keeping a balance between economic, environmental and social factors.

And we know we can’t do it alone. Engaging with other organizations, even those with opposing viewpoints, helps everyone understand the larger context and find consensus to move forward to action. The best agreements are built on foundations of transparent comprehensive data, and that’s why the Future of Fuels Working Group will deliver a series of research papers and facilitated discussions, identifying and addressing key trade-offs throughout the value chain, covering the spectrum of sustainability challenges that are linked to this great energy transition.

The first paper entitled “The Sustainability Impact of Fuels” published in 2012, focused on understanding the total sustainability impacts of commercial transportation fuels. This understanding includes life-cycle analysis, so that we begin to fully account for all the resource and externality issues associated with today’s fuels.

In 2012, UPS helped launch a working group managed by BSR to advance the development of alternative fuels.

Participants include academics, corporations, NGOs, and environmentalists, representing many points of view.

The first result of the process is a publicly available report entitled The Sustainability Impact of Fuels. (