The first steps taken by US President Joe Biden, such as the US’s return to the Paris Climate Agreement and the Climate Summit last April, replace the world’s largest economy as an active leader in global policy discussions on sustainable energy sources. Among them, the generation of bioenergy and the production of biofuels.
In addition, the recently released report “Net Zero by 2050, a Road Map for the Global Energy Sector”, from the International Energy Agency (IEA), shows that there is a very narrow window of opportunity to limit global warming to acceptable levels. This will require multiple solutions, including the growth in the use of bioenergy.
According to the Agency, in order not to lose this window of opportunity, the global production of sustainable bioenergy should more than double in the next 30 years, going from the current 40 Exajoules to about 100 Exajoules of available energy and the production of biofuels should more than quadruple, increasing daily consumption from 1.6 to 7 million barrels, considering the equivalence as that of oil.
This new scenario, including the discussion on public policies, technologies and means to achieve this acceleration, will be on the agenda at the Biofuture Summit II and Brazilian Bionergy Science and Technology Conference (BBEST), a totally online event that takes place between the 24th and 26th of May. The two conferences take place together, in a single integrated event, involving government representatives, entrepreneurs and researchers from more than 30 countries, in addition to international organizations, such as the IEA itself, and the International Renewable Energy Agency – IRENA. The conference is taking place at a strategic moment and defining world trends in the field of energy transition to low carbon.
The opening ceremony of the event will be attended by the Brazilian Secretary for Foreign Trade and Economic Affairs, Sarquis Sarquis, as well as the minister of Mines and Energy, Bento Albuquerque, as well as the US Deputy Energy Secretary, David Turk, as well as Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), the president of São Paulo State Research Support Foundation (FAPESP), Evandro Zago, and the president the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (APEX-Brasil), Augusto Pestana, and other authorities.
Renato Domith Godinho, head of the Energy Promotion Division of the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Itamaraty) and co-chairman of Biofuture, considers that the figures published by the IEA, as well as the change in the position of the American government, reinforce the international drive towards accelerating bioenergy and bioeconomics. According to Godinho, the greater the production of bioenergy and biofuels in the world, the more this energy source will become predictable and reliable. New markets will be developed and Brazil will benefit. “Those who produce efficiently tend to gain space in a larger global market. Not only for bioenergy itself, but for products, equipment, service and technology associated with this production”, he says.
As of June 1, the United States will take over the presidency of the Biofuture Platform. The transition from the coordination of Brazil to the USA was unanimously approved by the member countries and took place in accordance with the Platform’s governance rules. These rules provide for the chairmanship of the initiative to be rotated among member countries. The transfer will be officially formalized during the conference.
According to Brazilian diplomacy, this turnover is important and brings momentum to the initiative. “The presidency’s transition to the United States demonstrates Biofuturo’s institutional maturity and further reinforces its credibility as the main multilateral institution for the promotion of sustainable bioenergy”, says Godinho, who participated in the creation of Biofuturo and has been in its coordination for the past four years. “Despite the multiplication of forums on energy transition, until the creation of Biofuturo, biofuels and bioenergy were not a focus of international debates on this topic. It has now been proven that a Brazilian initiative can become an institution with global reach”, he adds.
Brazil has chaired the Biofuture Platform since 2016, having conceived and led its creation. In 2019, the International Energy Agency (IEA), linked to the OECD, took on the role of Facilitator, which increased the prestige of the initiative. Created at COP 22, in 2016, based on the intense performance of Brazilian diplomacy, Biofuturo brings together 20 governments – among them the United States, China, India and Canada, as well as countries in Southeast Asia, Mercosur and representatives of the European community – and aims to disseminate policies to encourage the generation of bioenergy and biofuels.
Politics and science
Emerging markets in the production of bioenergy, sustainability in the use of biomass, policies to encourage the production of biofuels and bioenergy, the positioning of biofuels in the new low carbon economy and financing models for production will be among the topics discussed. Representatives of governments, civil society, companies and researchers from more than 30 countries will participate in the discussions, including Germany, France, Spain, Sweden and other European representatives, USA, Canada, China, India, Southeast Asian, African and Latin America countries.
“Biofuturo has a more political, economic, social and sustainability approach. BBEST, on the other hand, seeks to stimulate technical debate and innovation”, explains Glaucia Mendes Souza, co-president of the conference and professor at the Department of Biochemistry at the University of São Paulo (USP) and coordinator of the Bioenergy Program (BIOEN) at São Paulo State Research Support Foundation (FAPESP).
According to the researcher, the events occur simultaneously because the sector’s growth depends on political and economic decisions, but also on reliable technical information and innovation. “When discussing emissions reduction, energy alternatives, efficiency and feasibility, it is important to have technical and scientific studies that contribute to clarifying issues, pointing out trends and assisting in decision-making. The simultaneous events generate synergy between the topics beeing discussed”, he explains.
Technical panels and lectures
In addition to the panels and debate tables, the joint conference Biofuture Summit II and BBEST 2020-21 will feature almost a hundred panels and technical lectures that will discuss the most diverse topics related to the production chain of biofuels and bioenergy, sustainability and low carbon economy. For registration, information about the events and full schedule, visit https://bbest-biofuture.org/v2/program-2/