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Biomass stakeholders launch Glasgow Declaration on Sustainable Bioenergy

A coalition of thirteen wood bioenergy companies and supply chain organizations from around the world have published the Glasgow Declaration on Sustainable Bioenergy. Using data from International Energy Agency (IEA) to highlight the indispensable role that sustainable bioenergy will play to help the world achieve global Net-Zero by mid-century, the Declaration sets out a vision for the sector’s ambitious growth to support the push to global Net-Zero.

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Launched on November 10, 2021, during COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, the Glasgow Declaration on Sustainable Bioenergy sets out how wood-based bioenergy can help tackle climate change, with a worldwide industry standard for sustainability at its core. “Sustainable bioenergy is an essential tool for delivering on the ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement and helping to tackle climate change. The anticipated contribution of bioenergy to net-zero targets must go hand-in-hand with an unwavering focus on the highest standards of sustainability,” said Dr Christian Rakos, President of the World Bioenergy Association (WBA) seen here addressing participants at the launch (photo courtesy WBA).

The Declaration has been signed by some of the world’s largest wood pellet producers, users, and handlers – Associated British Ports (ABP), Drax Group, Eco2, Enviva, Fram Renewable Fuels, Graanul Invest, Great Resources Co. Ltd, Lynemouth Power Ltd, Pellet México Bioenergia, PD Ports, and Port of Tyne, as well as the Association of Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), and the US Industrial Pellet Association (USIPA).

The IEA has distinguished sustainable bioenergy as one of seven ‘key pillars’ of decarbonization and technology that must scale exponentially to help meet global Net-Zero. The Glasgow Declaration serves as recognition that as the industry grows, we must continue to lead in our sustainable sourcing, demonstrate transparency, and foster engagement with all stakeholders. Enviva is proud of the role it has played in enabling countries to reduce their carbon emissions and supports this initiative to ensure biomass delivers on its full potential, said John Keppler, Co-founder, Chairman, and CEO of Enviva.

Bioenergy is the world’s leading form of renewable energy, supplying five times more energy than wind and solar combined across transport, heat, and power.

Sustainable wood bioenergy is recognized as essential for meeting climate goals by the leading authorities on climate change, including the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UK’s Climate Change Committee (CCC), and the IEA.

Meeting the commitments being made in Glasgow at COP26, and keeping the 1.5°C Paris Agreement alive, means recognizing the role that biomass has to play in helping to decarbonize the world’s energy needs. Today, bioenergy is providing immediate carbon savings through its use in the production of power, heat, and renewable transport fuel. Internationally accepted global energy scenarios recognize that this role is going to grow, including the delivery of negative emissions through the deployment of bioenergy carbon capture and storage. However, the bioenergy industry fully recognizes that further growth must go hand in hand with a firm and transparent commitment to ensuring that biomass continues to be done right, said Dr Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive of the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA).

Sustainable wood bioenergy has already contributed significantly to decarbonizing the energy sector by providing a reliable, low-carbon, renewable alternative to fossil fuels.

The IEA’s ‘Net Zero Scenario’ projects a threefold growth in the use of sustainable bioenergy by 2050 to help the world to meet the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 °C target, and deliver 4 percent of the global energy supply by 2050.

This will reduce emissions by one billion tonnes of CO2e per year compared to 2020 – more than is currently emitted by the world’s entire aviation industry.

These reductions will come from a combination of replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy and delivering negative emissions through bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

Woody biomass has directly replaced coal in some cases where coal power stations have been converted to run on sustainably sourced biomass. It also provides flexible energy, which supports a diverse low-carbon energy mix, including wind and solar power.

As an operating biomass power station, the first one in the UK to have fully converted from coal to biomass, Lynemouth Power is proud to have contributed to a significant reduction in greenhouse gases. But, if we are to meet the international commitments made during COP26, we can, and must, go further. The launch of the Glasgow Declaration is a landmark moment for the Sustainable Bioenergy sector and Lynemouth Power is proud to be one of the signatories, said Fiona Macleod, Managing Director, Lynemouth Power.

When sustainable wood bioenergy is combined with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), it provides negative emissions by capturing carbon at scale and burying it permanently underground, which helps to offset emissions from hard-to-decarbonize sectors such as aviation and agriculture.

The climate crisis is the greatest challenge the world faces and the world’s leading climate scientists are very clear that biomass has a critical part to play in both reducing emissions as well as removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Biomass is unique because it can be used to replace fossil fuels in the delivery of low carbon, flexible and renewable energy, and when combined with carbon capture and storage technology, it permanently removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. No other technology can do both. This declaration is the start of a process. We invite all stakeholders, especially fellow biomass producers, users, and NGOs, to discuss the principles and reach a consensus on what good biomass looks like, so the industry can sign up to the agreed principles and commit to only using biomass that meets them, said Will Gardiner, CEO, Drax Group.

The Glasgow Declaration on Sustainable Bioenergy has two main parts:

1)    A vision for the sustainable growth of the global wood bioenergy sector over the next 10 to 30 years, based on pathways set out by the IEA and IPCC.

2)    A framework of sustainability principles that are already helping to deliver sustainable wood bioenergy and must continue to underpin the entire industry as it grows. These principles outline a sustainable approach to wood bioenergy covering four key areas: managing natural resources responsibly; transparency and science-based carbon accounting; protecting biodiversity; and supporting and protecting communities. The principles are not intended as a replacement for detailed regulations and certification schemes, which are necessary to ensure sustainability.

The expansion of wood bioenergy could also support more than 200 000 additional jobs in the supply chain by 2030, and more than 450 000 additional jobs by 2050, providing employment and investment in under-resourced communities in both rural and industrial areas.

The Glasgow Declaration on Sustainable Bioenergy is an unambiguous statement, making clear that ensuring the sustainable use of natural biomass resources is at the centre of industry activities, both today and in the future. The principles reaffirmed within the Declaration go beyond a statement of intent, and form a foundation for how all bioenergy stakeholders can continue to review industry practices, ensuring that bioenergy delivers demonstrable carbon savings along with further environmental and social benefits, said Dr Nr Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive REA.

The group invites all participants in the broader bioenergy sector, including industry, civil society, academia, and governments, to join the signatories and help achieve the full potential of sustainable bioenergy to help deliver global Net-Zero.

As the global bioenergy industry continues to deliver decarbonization, innovation, and crucial green jobs throughout the supply chain, sustainability must remain at the very heart of business models. The Glasgow Declaration on Sustainable Bioenergy is an invitation to all participants in the broader bioenergy sector, including industry, civil society, academia, and governments, to join the existing signatories and help realize the full potential of sustainable bioenergy in delivering global Net-Zero, ended Dr Christian Rakos, President of the World Bioenergy Association (WBA).

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