Countries agree to scale up the low carbon bioeconomy and develop sustainable biofuels targets
Countries representing half of the global population and 37 percent of the global economy have agreed to scale up the low carbon bioeconomy and develop collective targets prescribing the contribution of sustainable bioenergy to final energy demand and as a percentage of transport fuel use.
The decision is set out in a declaration released November 16 by the Biofuture Platform member countries – entitled “Scaling Up the Low Carbon Bioeconomy”. It is a major breakthrough for sustainable biofuels and the broader bioeconomy, which will now become a key component of the global solution to climate change.
The declaration is the culmination of nine months of negotiations and is the first time countries and other stakeholders have formally agreed to develop targets for biofuels and the bioeconomy, and construct an action plan to achieve them.
The declaration was adopted at the COP23 Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany under the presidency of Fiji, by member countries of the Biofuture Platform: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Morocco, Mozambique, the Netherlands, Paraguay, the Philippines, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Uruguay.
What we have just accomplished here with the endorsement of this statement is quite remarkable. The technology and the awareness of the need for bio-based solutions are finally coming together, said Brazil’s Minister of the Environment, José Sarney Filho.
Bioenergy and biofuels share must be accelerated
The decisions announced have been informed by modelling from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) – both partners in the Biofuture Platform – concluding that the 2030 temperature goals adopted in the Paris Agreement cannot be reached without a major increase in the production and use of sustainable biofuels and bioproducts.
Specifically, the IEA and IRENA conclude that “in order to limit the increase in global average temperature to well below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to reach 1.5ºC, bioenergy and biofuels share in the global energy matrix must be accelerated to achieve at least a doubling in the next 10 years”. In specific sectors, such as transport, the need is even greater.
Biofuels in transport would need to grow threefold by 2030, most of it coming from advanced technologies using non-edible feedstocks, including waste and residues, said Fatih Birol, Executive Director of OECD’s International Energy Agency (IEA).
In addition to developing specific targets, participating countries will “devise an action plan outlining detailed actions to support achieving the targets, [and] develop a reporting mechanism to track progress”.
Because of its abundant, renewable raw materials and its integration with existing fuel systems, biofuels have been instrumental in reducing emissions and replacing existing fuels. Through problem-oriented work methods, we should strive to form feasible proposals or solutions and promote transformative measures, said Xie Zhenhua, Special Representative for Climate Change of China.
Coordinated international action needed
While some progress has been made in growing the bioeconomy, there is an urgent need to drive investments and overcome challenges in scaling up production and use, including oil and feedstock price volatility and policy uncertainty.
While renewables have made rapid progress in the power sector, energy transformation in end-use sectors such as industry, heating and transport needs to be accelerated to meet climate objectives. Bioenergy will play a key role in this context. As such, we welcome the vision statement of the Biofuture Platform and will continue to support it as it works to build a sustainable energy future, said Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
To address such challenges, in the declaration member countries agreed that coordinated international action is required to implement policy solutions, many of which have already been adopted by member countries, including specific biofuels mandates, sustainable low-carbon agricultural policies, R&D support, and incentives related to verified carbons savings.
In the declaration, member countries also call for climate and green financing mechanisms and institutions to ramp up resourcing of bioeconomy projects as a top priority.
It is important that the statement includes key actions, as concrete actions are needed to reach our common goals. All actors need to get involved. With wise policy measures, like streamlining regulation and creating incentives, we can create an encouraging business environment for bio-economy investments, said Kimmo Tiilikainen, Minister of Environment of Finland.