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Biofuture Platform launches Clean Energy Ministerial Initiative to accelerate sustainable bioenergy in energy transition

In a high-level launch event, government representatives, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and top industry leaders called for international collaboration and engagement with the private sector to achieve global climate and energy transition goals.

On September 16, 2020, the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) high-level global forum officially launched the new Biofuture Platform Initiative (graphic courtesy Biofuture Platform).

The Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) high-level global forum has officially launched the new Biofuture Platform Initiative. The workstream, which will be implemented in close partnership with the private sector, will raise international ambition and advance sustainable bioenergy and biomaterials production, trade, and use globally, via policies and programmes to make sustainable bioenergy a key enabler in clean energy transitions.

Virtual launch

The 11th iteration of the CEM, currently being hosted by Saudi Arabia, was created to promote initiatives that help accelerate the transition to a clean energy future. As highlighted in recent IEA and Biofuture Platform reports, as the overlooked giant of the renewable energy sector, bioenergy can help deliver a successful transition to low-carbon energy systems.

The launch of the Biofuture Platform CEM Initiative was marked with a virtual event on September 16, 2020, attended by senior representatives and industry leaders from several countries including Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Netherlands, United Kingdom (UK), and the United States (US). The event was co-chaired by the Minister of Mines and Energy of Brazil, Bento Albuquerque, and the Executive Director of the IEA, Dr Fatih Birol, in the IEA’s capacity of coordinator of the new CEM initiative.

Opening the event, Hon. Bento Albuquerque, Minister of State of Mines and Energy, Brazil, called for greater collaboration between CEM members.

Sustainable acceleration of bioenergy and biomaterial production requires a comprehensive set of policies, measures, and regulations. It is crucial to learn from each other’s successes and mistakes so that the best and most efficient policies can be adapted and replicated around the world. This forum, which we have created together, is the best place to learn from national experiences in a systematic way, said Minister Albuquerque.

Highlighting the IEA’s view that bioenergy is the overlooked giant of renewable energy, Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA noted that modern bioenergy currently accounts for almost 50 percent of total renewable energy consumption.

Our analysis shows that it will be paramount to a successful global energy transition. Decarbonising electricity alone is not enough. In order to meet international climate and energy goals, the use of modern bioenergy will need to triple from today’s levels, providing 12% of total global cumulative emissions reductions. This very significant contribution towards decarbonisation, particularly in transport, buildings, and industry sectors, cannot be understated, said Dr Birol.

Major milestone

The workstream is a significant milestone for the four-year-old multi-stakeholder initiative which is backed by its twenty member governments and the International Energy Agency (IEA) and is expected to increase awareness of the role of sustainable bioenergy in global economies, drive international ministerial engagement and private-sector partnerships.

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It follows the Platform’s Five Principles for Post-COVID Bioeconomy Recovery announced in August, that are designed to help economies create jobs in a sector severely hit by the coronavirus crisis. The principles recognize bioenergy for its potential to create jobs and recommended that the sector be considered in post-COVID-19 recovery plans.

The Biofuture Platform CEM Initiative regards this cross-cutting work as an imperative cornerstone of the ambition to achieve a global sustainable transition to cleaner energy.

We’re excited to launch the new CEM Biofuture Platform Initiative as the cornerstone of public-private collaboration to deploy bioenergy, expand its trade, and accelerate its use around the world. These efforts are more important than ever as we begin our post-COVID recovery. We need to use the pandemic as an accelerant to harness our combined will, expertise and resources to build back better and forge a new path to a cleaner, more resilient future, said Shawn Tupper, Associate Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, Canada.

Call for greater collaboration

Global representatives of the Platform called for greater international collaboration and knowledge sharing across the bioenergy sector to encourage dialogue from governments and within industries. Julia Nolan, Head of International Energy, UK, spoke of the importance of international cooperation.

International cooperation is essential if we are to grow the role of sustainable bioenergy globally. We need a coordinated approach to share best practices and to stimulate the innovation that is key to developing affordable, new biofuels – for example in aviation where it is badly needed, said Julia Nolan.

Daniel R. Simmons, Assistant Secretary, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), US Department of Energy (DOE) spoke of the importance of collaboration across federal agencies and partner countries.

We partner very closely with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Biomass Research and Development Board. Through the Board’s bioeconomy initiative, agencies work together to align their efforts and collaborate in different inter-agency working groups. Through these bioeconomy initiatives, the US government can make sure our federal agencies are aligned and we have a unified effort to bring to the international stage. Collaboration is critical, said Daniel R. Simmons.

Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, India, highlighted the importance of India’s partnerships.

The Biofuture Platform Initiative is going to play a very key role in connecting the industry and a large number of countries. I would like to call on all member countries to come forward to help us bring together our research efforts on a common convergence platform so that these technologies, which are so critical, can be deployed to play an important role in our bioeconomy, said Dr Swarup.

Andriah Feby Misna, Director of Bioenergy, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Indonesia, spoke on Indonesia’s ambition to play a key role in a transition to clean energy.

We hope through the Biofuture Platform initiative we can collaborate with each other to encourage accelerating the transition to a sustainable low carbon economy, said Andriah Feby Misna.

Key takeaways from the event included:

  • A need for greater recognition of sustainable bioenergy in clean energy transition plans;
  • An increased international collaboration, particularly when exploring advances in bioenergy technologies;
  • Bringing policy initiatives to the forefront to ensure greater recognition around mandates and innovation

Thiago Barral, CEM Sherpa for Brazil, President, Energy Planning Agency, Brazil, reiterated the need to increase engagement with industry.

This is a key aspect of the initiative, as our countries have decided that a much stronger engagement with the private sector is necessary. Not by coincidence, we shall have the pleasure to listen to the views of key industry leaders from Asia, Europe, and the Americas today. Our goal is to build a continued, sustained engagement with industry, so that governments, regulators, academia, and international agencies can align priorities and expectations to unlock a whole new level of new investments in the low carbon bioeconomy, said Thiago Barral.

About the Biofuture Platform and CEM

The Biofuture Platform is a government-led, multi-stakeholder initiative designed to take action on climate change and support the Sustainable Development Goals by promoting international coordination on the sustainable low-carbon bioeconomy. It was launched in Marrakesh at the COP 22 climate talks in November 2016. Since February 1, 2019, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has been the Facilitator (Secretariat) of the initiative. The Biofuture Platform has twenty member countries: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Morocco, Mozambique, the Netherlands, Paraguay, the Philippines, Sweden, UK, USA, and Uruguay. As a multi-stakeholder initiative, a number of international organizations, academia, and private sector associations are also involved and engaged as official partners.

The Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) is a high-level global forum to promote policies and programs that advance clean energy technology, to share lessons learned and best practices, and to encourage the transition to a global clean energy economy. CEM initiatives are based on areas of common interest among participating governments and other stakeholders, focusing on empowering energy decision-makers around the world with the up-to-date information and tools they need to improve the policy environment for clean energy. As low-cost, high-impact technical works, CEM initiatives also facilitate international coordination that amplifies each government’s clean energy deployment efforts.

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