New and improved routes to Low Carbon Fuels, Chemicals and Materials: Re-Thinking the Global Bioeconomy

October 17, 2018 |

By Tammy Klein, Douglas Faulkner and Gerard J. Ostheimer, Ph.D.

Special to The Digest

The development of the global bioeconomy has made great leaps and strides over the past 10 years, but it has also had its fair share of stops and starts. Despite numerous technological advances, a witch’s brew of policy issues emerged (and re-emerged), including worries over “food vs. fuels”, indirect land use change and whether the bioeconomy really contributes to climate goals. All of these body-blows created an atmosphere of resignation among the industry players, and a discernible “biofuels fatigue” became the norm among global policymakers and thought-leaders.

But we’ve noticed that a revival of sorts is happening.

After the Paris Agreement in 2015 the urgent challenge of mitigating climate change forced numerous people across the advocacy-to-action spectrum to look for practical options to de-carbonizing the entire economy. People who five years ago couldn’t be bothered to think about biofuels were suddenly realizing that the production of biofuels had matured with a genuine effort on sustainability and an eagerness to drive down carbon intensity scores. And the other arguments for a thriving bioeconomy, like reducing dependence on fossil fuels and juicing rural development, are as valid as ever.

Last week, Fatih Barol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, and Kimmo Tiilikainen, Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing of Finland wrote an op-edarguing that modern bioenergy is critical to meeting climate change goals. They noted that while frequently controversial and often overlooked, bioenergy is the only renewable energy today that can supply all sectors. They wrote:

“The role of modern bioenergy in decarbonising the global energy system is not widely recognised, which is a major blind spot in the global energy debate. The fact is that modern bioenergy is a sustainable solution to address the global climate challenge while contributing to energy diversification and security. But in order to achieve these targets, its deployment must accelerate.”

Whether at the California Global Climate Action Summit or the NYC Climate Week, new voices are calling for the expansion of bioenergy across sectors, including transport. The International Renewable Energy Agency, Sustainable Energy for All, the Biofutures Platform, and corporate groups such as below50, are but a few. For them the evolving global bioeconomy is creating new opportunities to meet climate change and sustainable development goals in both developed and emerging economies.

Advances in agriculture, biotechnology and bioprocessing have made it possible to meet a considerable fraction of the global demand for chemicals and fuels from renewable carbon derived from bioenergy. And countries as far-flung as Australia, Brazil, China and India are working overtime to bring their biomass resources online to realize the potential economic and environmental win-win. What remains to be seen is how fast we can bring the benefits of the emerging bioeconomy to the next tier of developing countries across sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia.

Join the webinar

We’ll be discussing these issues and more at the next Future Fuels Outlook web conference, “Re-Thinking the Global Bioeconomy: New and Improved Routes to Low Carbon Fuels, Chemicals and Materials that Are an Economic and Environmental Win-Win.” to be held 10 am ET on Tuesday, October 23. The webinar will feature presentations and a moderated Q&A with two key experts working in this space:

  • Gerard Ostheimer, Ph.D., Global Lead for Bioenergy, Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Founder and Senior Advisor, below50
  • Douglas Faulkner, Leatherstocking, LLC, Co-Chair of the U.S. governments’s Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee

Space is limited so reserve your spot now! Please RSVP to host and moderator Tammy Klein at [email protected] to receive the connection details. Please do forward the invite to your colleagues.

Can’t attend? No problem! This web conference will be recorded and posted, along with the presentation.


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Category: Thought Leadership

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