Government officials, company representatives and scientists from Brazil, the UK, Finland and other countries gathered in London on 2 December to discuss policies and technologies that need to be put in place to accelerate reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector and build a sustainable future. More than 120 people took part in the Conference on Advanced Biofuels and Bioeconomy, at Canning House.
There was a consensus amongst participants that further efforts are needed to meet emission reduction targets adopted on the national and international levels, with a specific emphasis on the transport sector, where meeting climate targets has been particularly challenging, despite being responsible for 23% of the world’s energy-related GHG emissions.
During the Conference, representatives from the private sector presented their latest technologies, scientists submitted their current innovative research. Brazil, UK and Finland presented their respective domestic policies on biofuels.
Sir David King, Special Representative for Climate Change at the Foreign Office, said at the opening of the conference:
“Paris was a wonderful agreement, but it took 21 years to reach that agreement. 21 wasted years. We now have very little time to manage the biggest transition in our economies that no one has ever seen since the industrial revolution”.
He added: “We could see this as a terribly difficult problem, but the other way to frame this is what an enormous economic opportunity is represented by all the opportunities for new technologies to get into the marketplace and meet an enormous demand.“
The Energy International Agency estimates that by 2035 the investments on the transition away from fossil fuel based economy will reach US$ 53 trillion, according to Sir David King.
The Conference was held in the context of the launch of the Biofuture Platform at COP 22 in Marrakech last month. The platform is a new 20-country coalition aimed at filling an “attention gap” to the transportation and industry sectors, raising bioeconomy solutions in the global agenda and promoting policy dialogue and collaboration among leading countries, organizations, academia and the private sector.
The goal is to accelerate development and scale up deployment of modern sustainable low-carbon alternatives to fossil based solutions in transport fuels, industrial processes, chemicals, plastics and other sectors.
The list of participating countries comprises Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Netherlands, Morocco, Mozambique, Paraguay, Philippines, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States of America and Uruguay.
The role of second generation biofuels in tackling climate change with a positive social and economic dimension was discussed in the panel formed by representatives from private sector (E4Tech), academia (University College London) and government – UK Department for Transport, Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy and BNDES (Brazilian Development Bank).
During the second session, “Bioproducts, biorrefineries, biotechnology – the road towards a bioeconomy revolution”, cutting-edge biotechnology and research were presented by Shell, NNFCC (UK consultancy), Beta Renewables (Italian company with significant work in 2nd generation biofuels), Braskem (Brazilian petrochemical firm and producer of I’m greenTM plastic), Imperial College and CTC (Brazilian sugarcane technology centre).
The theme of the third session was “The Brazilian experience: current trends and challenges, trade and investment opportunities”. Chaired by Datagro (Brazilian consultancy) the speakers of the panel were from Apex-Brasil (Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency), UNICA (Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association) and Amyris (US company with a project on bio jet fuel).
“Biofuels have been used for nearly 4 decades in Brazil and their contribution to the economy has been extremely positive”, said Brazilian ambassador to the UK, Eduardo dos Santos.
He added: “Our Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement indicates a further commitment of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 37% below 2005 levels in 2025 and 43% in 2030. We already have over 40% of our energy mix composed of renewables, and the country aims to increase the share of sustainable biofuels in its energy mix to 18% by 2030”.
In the last session, representatives from the governments of U.K. and Finland presented their national experiences and vision for advanced biofuels and the bioeconomy, as a basis for a free exchange about the priorities for the implementation of the Biofuture Platform.
“Brazil is the world’s largest producer of sustainable biofuels due to political, financial and institutional support. The UK can learn from that experience”, said Iain Wright, MP, chair of the UK Parliament’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee.