From COP 22 in Marrakech: 20 countries form BioFutures Platform

November 17, 2016 |

bd-ts-111816-biofutures-sm-finalAt COP22, in Marrakech, a coalition of 20 countries interested in the clean energy and the bioeconomy fields launched of the Biofuture Platform, a new collective effort 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.

More on the Platform

The Biofuture Platform encompasses some of the most relevant countries for the driving of markets and innovation in advanced biofuels and biomaterials. 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 Biofuture Platform builds on the commitments established by Rio+20, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. The initiative has the potential of contributing significantly in the global fight against climate change, nurturing solutions that can help countries in reaching their Nationally Determined Contribution targets, as well as to contribute towards the SDGs.

The Biofuture Platform stems from the realization that there is an urgent need for sustainable, immediately scalable solutions to reduce carbon emissions in the transport sector. Transportation is the sector that has so far been one of the most challenging for mitigation. It accounts for around a quarter of the world’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. Low carbon fuels are the fastest alternative to reduce carbon intensity in the transport sector without waiting for major fleet and infrastructure changes. Independent assessments have indicated a reduction of up to 90% in CO2 emissions for cellulosic biofuels, when compared to those of gasoline.

The Biofuture Platform will be geared to fill the attention gap in 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 Platform will be driven by its members by means of simple procedures, leveraging the work already being undertaken by countries, organizations, and other stakeholders around the world in order to reach tangible outcomes in bioeconomy-related policies, investment facilitation, R&D, innovation, and sustainability practices.

The Launch

The launch event was co-hosted by the governments of Brazil and Morocco, with the presence of ministers, heads of delegation, and high-level representatives of the Biofuture Platform partner countries and international organizations. The government of Brazil, who had originally proposed the initiative, was chosen to coordinate the Biofuture Platform’s implementation as its interim facilitator.

The launch of this new country-led platform was also hailed by several international organizations and mechanisms, such as IRENA, IEA, FAO, and SE4ALL, as well as private sector associations and initiatives such as the WBCSD, ABBI, UNICA, and below50.

The Launch Statement

Ministers and high-level representatives of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Morocco, Mozambique, Netherlands, Paraguay, Philippines, Sweden, United States of America, United Kingdom and Uruguay have gathered together on November 16, 2016, in Marrakesh, Morocco, to declare the following:

As countries implement their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in support of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, there is growing demand for sustainable, immediately scalable solutions to reduce carbon emissions in the transport sector. Transportation accounts for around 23% of the world’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, and it is among the most challenging sectors to decarbonize. While hybrid and electric cars can help reducing carbon footprint in light duty transport, other, more immediate solutions must be concurrently put forward if climate targets are to be achieved. Sustainable, non-fossil alternatives should also be developed in such sectors as heavy duty vehicles, air transportation, plastics, and chemicals. A large number of countries have developed or are developing a bioeconomy strategy that includes expanding the production and use of biofuels, biopower, and biobased products. 

Recent industrial and technological advancements have offered viable, diverse, sustainable pathways for both low carbon transport fuels and advanced bioproducts and green chemistry. 

In several countries, second generation biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel have recently reached or are about to reach commercial scale. 

Several independent assessments suggest that these next-generation fuels and biomaterials can achieve significant reductions in life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil-based alternatives, in some cases reducing emissions up to 90%. Moreover, these next generation fuels that are made from cellulosic feedstocks, which are non-food based and make up the largest portion of the Earth’s plant biomass. These second generation fuels can use agricultural residues and waste as feedstock; be produced with no additional land and water resources; increase income in rural areas; and bring down the cost of food by increasing the productivity and economic value per hectare of any crop. 

Together, low carbon fuels, bioproducts and other biotechnology-enabled products transition to a green bioeconomy, which also provides the basis for a circular economy. Future bio-refineries will be able to sustainably convert residues and waste into fuels, electricity, chemicals, food and pharmaceutical ingredients. Realizing the full potential of this new bioeconomy and scaling up production of low carbon advanced fuels and other bioproducts will, however, require the leadership of governments to create an enabling policy environment at national and international levels in order to attract adequate investments and overcome technological and commercial challenges inherent to an industry in its early stages, as well as to ensure its sustainability. 

There is an evident need for a more consistent international collaboration and dialogue which – under clear national ownership by the governments of participating countries – could help to fulfill the social and economic potential of advanced low carbon fuels and the new bioeconomy, facilitating the upscaling of markets and promoting the recognition of their unique climate and environmental benefits. 

For these reasons, the countries here represented 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, GBEP, IEA Bioenergy, IRENA, Mission Innovation, UN SE4ALL), 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. 

Reaction from stakeholders

“Transportation has, so far, been one of the most challenging sectors for mitigation. This is not a matter of selecting between different paths to achieve a certain goal. We need all hands on deck, to explore all avenues towards near and medium term solutions for the transport sector if we are to reach our emissions targets by 2030″.
Minister of Environment of Brazil, Mr. Sarney Filho

“Sustainable green bioeconomy will and must be the next wave of the global economy and the base of sustainable well-being in the future. Renewable energy, naturally, will be an essential key towards mitigating climate change and towards bioeconomy.”
Minister for Agriculture and Environment of Finland, Kimmo Tiilikainen. 

“Sustainably-sourced advanced biofuels will be key to expanding the use of renewables in the transport sector. Their high energy density and wide range of feedstock options make them especially vital as a transportation fuel.”
Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). 

“Particularly regarding biofuels, FAO and its partners work to support countries to move from the dualism of ‘food versus fuel’ to the inclusive concept of ‘food and fuel. In this line, FAO welcomes the Biofuture Platform which aims to promote low-carbon solutions and contribute to the global efforts against the impacts of climate change.”
Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), José Graziano da Silva. 

“Biofuel plays a significant role in emission reduction and replacing transport fuels, I expect the Biofuture Platform Initiative to become a new platform for countries to exchange best practices in developing biofuel, and promote the transformation of the global economy toward a green and low carbon path.”
Minister Xie Zhenhua, China’s Special Representative for Climate Change Affairs 

“Our challenges are particularly critical in the transportation sector, which accounts for 70% of our nation petroleum’s consumption and nearly one-third of our greenhouse gas emissions. It will be clearly impossible to reduce the emissions by 80% by 2050 without clean transportation fuels and the development of a green bioeconomy.”
Jonathan Pershing, Special Envoy for Climate Change, United States Department of State 

“From the perspective of the IEA, in order to achieve a decarbonized transport future we need to marshal all the opportunities, all the available technologies: electrification of transport, obviously energy efficiency, and the development of effective public transport systems. But biofuels have a unique role to play here. In fact the IEA scenarios suggest that by 2050 we will have to rely on biofuels for about 25% of all the transport fuel needs if we are to keep the rise of global temperature below 2 degrees.”
Paul Simons, Deputy-Executive Director, IEA

“The challenge for transportation is huge: we have to meet the growing demand while simultaneously reducing emissions. We are all here for the same reason: we need to transform the transport sector. We need a shared vision. There isn’t a cohesive plan, as of yet, that addresses climate change through sustainable alternative fuels in transport at a global scale”
Peter White, Vice President and COO, WBCSD 

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