Association, Biofuel, Biorefinery, Clean technology, Government, Press Release, R&D, Regulation

Biofuture Platform launched

Ministers and high-level representatives of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Morocco, Mozambique, Netherlands, Paraguay, Philippines, Sweden, United Kingdom, and Uruguay gathered together on November 16, 2017, in Bonn, Germany, and have decided to join efforts in a new government-led, multi-stakeholder Biofuture Platform designed to promote international coordination on advanced low carbon fuels and bioeconomy development.

Country representatives, in consultation with other stakeholders, shall develop the Platform´s activities in a flexible, opt-in model, taking into account how to best leverage the work of existing international institutions and initiatives (including CEM, FAO, GBEP, IEA, IEA Bioenergy, IRENA, Mission Innovation, SE4ALL, among others), and how to best address existing gaps, towards the following general goals:

• Promoting international collaboration and dialogue between policy makers, industry, academia, and other stakeholders

• Facilitating an enabling environment for advanced low-carbon fuel and bioeconomy-related investments

• Raising awareness and share analysis about the current status, potential, and advantages of low-carbon fuels and other advanced bioeconomy developments

• Promoting research and development and share analysis, policy practices and information on R&D activities and needs

• Discussing how to effectively evaluate, share and promote sustainable practices for the production of biomass and the entire value chain life cycles.

The overarching objective behind the conformation of the Biofuture Platform is to increase the use of low carbon sources (i.e. sustainable bio-mass) as the feedstock for the production of energy, chemicals and materials. It has been estimated that, by 2050, half of world’s chemicals and materials could be produced from renewable resources.

In terms of energy, the need is critical. Bioenergy is key in several areas, including heating and transport, and particularly in heavy freight, maritime, and air transport where other practical options are scarce.

The platform will also address in limiting global warming to well below 20C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to reach 1.5ºC by accelerating bioenergy and biofuels project efforts. However, this expanded bioeconomy must be based on sustainable practices to ensure unequivocal carbon savings and to avoid any other detrimental environmental, social or economic impacts.

Bioenergy and bio-based product deployment and investments are not growing quickly enough, according to the press statement, and the technology suffers from a number of barriers, including early stage scale challenges, financial risks, oil and feedstock price volatility and policy uncertain-ty. This is why creating the conditions for scaling up the low carbon bioeconomy is both an urgent and vital challenge.

Countries participating in the Platform are determined to lead the way forward by contributing, according to their own national circumstances, policies, targets, and points of departure, to the following aspirational, collective goals for 2030:

• Significantly increase the contribution of sustainable modern bioenergy to final energy demand.

• Significantly increase the share of sustainable, low carbon biofuels as a percentage of transport fuels (including sea and air transport).

• Progressively increase the average lifecycle carbon savings from biofuels production compared to fossil fuels.

• Spur bioeconomy innovation and the commercial advancement for production of low carbon biofuels at scale so that they become broadly cost competitive with fossil fuels when the value of the carbon savings is taken into account.

• Significantly increase global investments in the sustainable low carbon bioeconomy, including on advanced, flexible biorefineries capable of producing energy and and bio-based products.

• Multiply the expenditure by governments and industry on research and innovation in the bioeconomy.

The country members aim to provide supporting policies, programmes and regulatory frameworks to enable the development and deployment of sustainable biofuels and bio-products.

Examples of such policies include:

– Removing inefficient subsidies for the production and use of fossil fuels;

– Introducing carbon pricing regimes covering a wide range of energy sectors and scales of operation;

– Establishing specific targets and/or mandates for deployment of biofuels in transport;

– Facilitating market development by active national procurement of advanced biofuels and bioproducts when performance specifications are achieved;

– Implementing specific incentive regimes for more efficient forms of bioenergy, directly tied to their carbon emission savings;

– Incorporating the low-carbon bioeconomy in emerging national circular economy strategies, including the use of rural and urban waste as feedstocks;

– Establishing integrated value chains linking a wide range of industries and organizations from biomass growers to bio-product and bioenergy users;

– Promote international biofuels trade by fostering sustainability and quality standards for bio-fuels;

– Design and implement practical, science-based sustainability frameworks and regulations, including, among other mechanisms, carbon life-cycle (well-to-wheel) analysis and risk-based approaches;

– Enable the development and commercialization of novel sustainable bio-based fuels and products by specific policies targeting early stage technologies;

– Encourage the use of solid biomass in efficient stationary applications, including combined heat and power (CHP) systems and district heating systems, to provide energy to industry and buildings;

– Implement smart agricultural policies to promote a sustainable, reliable and affordable supply of feedstock, including restoration of degraded lands and protection of biodiversity, introduction of short rotation and perennial energy crops, reducing loss and waste, improving res-idue collection and promoting intercropping and agroforestry;

– Increased support for research, development and demonstration for the low carbon bioeconomy, including on new, innovative and cost-effective products and chemicals from biomass;

– Establish collaborative international capacity building including training and incentives for re-searchers and students.

Under the Platform, the aim of industrial partners:

• Increase investment in development and innovation aimed at sustainably producing high perfor-mance equipment, components, processes and end products in the energy, materials and chemical sectors, helping them to become competitive with fossil based products when external environmental costs are factored in.

• Become users of advanced bioproducts when performance specifications and sustainability requirements are achieved and products are competitive taking carbon and other benefits into account.

By the finance community (including international financial institutions, development banks, and private finance institutions and funds):

• Increase priority given to low carbon sustainable bioeconomy projects as a key part of renewable energy, climate change mitigation and “green” financing portfolios, greatly increasing available resources.

• Deploy loan guarantees and other financial instruments to facilitate development, production and market deployment of low carbon fuels and bio-based products.

Aim by the research community:

• Lead high quality research into new and/or improved bio-based processes and products and conversion and utilization systems optimized for bioenergy.

• Provide high quality evidence and analysis relating to the sustainability of bioenergy and bioproducts so as to build public confidence and consensus.

• Produce technical advice to support government design of public policies for the bioeconomy.

The role of the Biofuture Platform, in collaboration with international organizations and initiatives such as those mentioned in its Launch Statement, is to provide a forum to support this collaborative effort and help monitor progress towards achievement of the vision.

About Doris de Guzman

Will Green Chemistry save the world or is it hype?

Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives aimed at preventing pollution; replacing ingredients; and using renewable feedstocks in Green Chemistry.

She has been covering the oleochemicals market for 15 years and spread her beat to inorganics, biofuels and green chemistry.

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