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Anaerobic digestion bodies welcome IPCC climate and land report

In a joint response to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "Climate Change and Land" report, the World Biogas Association (WBA) and the UK Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) welcome the report and, in particular, the acknowledgment that future land use will need to support bioenergy to ensure that global warming is limited to 1.5ºC.

Collected food waste undergoing pretreatment to separate out unwanted non-biodegradable contaminants such as plastic from the organic substrate material at a biogas plant.

One of three special reports that the IPCC is preparing during the current Sixth Assessment Report cycle, the “Climate Change and Land, an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystemswas released August 8, 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Not only does the report state that better land management is needed to address climate change, but also that reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from all sectors, especially from food waste, is essential to keep global warming to 1.5ºC or well below 2ºC.

In a joint statement, the World Biogas Association (WBA) and the UK Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) welcome the report and, in particular, the acknowledgment that future land use will need to support bioenergy to ensure that global warming is limited to 1.5ºC. This would need to be integrated into a portfolio response to the climate crisis, including reforestation, afforestation, reduced deforestation, and a reappraisal of the existing food system.

This latest IPCC report illustrates how important it is to address climate change across multiple sectors – and this is where anaerobic digestion (AD) and biogas can play a significant role.  Our recent research shows that AD and biogas can help reduce global GHG emissions by 10-13% and in some of the hardest to decarbonise sectors: agriculture, transport, and heat. We’re currently only processing 2 percent of the organic feedstock available into green energy and bio-fertilisers. There’s so much that this industry can do, and world governments need to ensure that they integrate it not only into their Nationally Determined Contributions to meet Paris Agreement targets but also in their strategies for developing a sustainable circular economy across the world. Biogas has been shown to make a significant contribution towards 9 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. It needs to be recognized and supported as a key player in the global sustainability agenda, said David Newman, President of the WBA.

The WBA recently published a major report on the Global Potential of Biogas, which sets out the contribution biogas can make to climate mitigation, and last year published a report on Global Food Waste Management.

On-farm AD is a key growth area in the UK and an essential part of achieving the UK’s Net Zero emissions target by 2050.  It enables the development of a sustainable farming model in which organic wastes are recycled into natural fertilisers, to restore our depleted soils; and biogas to generate power for electricity or biomethane for the hard-to-decarbonise transport and heat sectors.  We are feeding in our views to help shape the UK’s Agriculture Bill, among other policies, to ensure the UK can take the lead in revolutionising farming, food waste and sustainable land use.   This IPCC report is welcome in emphasising the very urgent need to do so, said Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of ADBA, a founding member of WBA.

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