Our lands are the platform on which our towns and cities live, work and grow. If we have any hope of addressing climate change, we must change how we manage the crops and livestock that feed us and nurture our soil.
While gas-guzzling cars get much of the attention, our food systems account for an estimated 24% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 60% of terrestrial biodiversity loss globally.
In an attempt to slow down global warming, the EU recently proposed raising its GHG emissions reduction target to 55% by 2030 in its ‘Fit for 55’ package. At the same time, the global population is expected to increase by a quarter, to nearly 10 billion people by 2050. With two billion more mouths to feed, agricultural demand could grow by 50 percent compared to 2013, based on modest economic growth scenarios.
To feed future generations while reducing the footprint of food, we must collaborate across the global bioeconomy and develop new ways of farming. In short, we must learn to grow more, with less.
Growth can be synonymous with better
At Avril, we firmly believe that growth can by synonymous with better. But it requires global co-operation.
It will mean changing our eating habits, our energy choices and our farming. Farmers play a vital role not just in feeding our populations, but in managing our ecosystems, which includes sequestering carbon in the earth. They hold the key to ensuring growth means better.
Many of the new farming practices and technologies we need already exist, and could reduce GHG emissions by 25-35% by 2030 across Europe’s farming sector. Such practices will also help Europe reduce its carbon footprint from imported deforestation – environmental damage that takes place elsewhere in the world – to support European food demand.
Growing more with less
Avril’s purpose, “Serving the Earth” means meeting the two major challenges facing our industry: the climate emergency and population growth. As a major player in plant oils and proteins, we have a power and a duty to support this global transition towards sustainable growth, creating value for both the industry and society. It’s a purpose that we’ve defined together with our employees and our upstream partners in the agricultural value chain, which makes it especially meaningful and powerful. It’s not just in our DNA to act – it’s our collective mission.
As part of this commitment to act, we are testing new methods and products that reduce emissions while meeting food needs. For example, raw materials – here oilseeds and protein crops- can have dual uses– producing both sustainable biofuel and high-protein feed for animals.
Our subsidiary Saipol produces a biofuel called Oleo100 made entirely from French rapeseed, which reduces GHG emissions in heavy goods vehicles by 60% and cuts fine particulate matter emissions by up to 80% at a cost similar to diesel. During the production process, we also produce high-protein livestock feed as a by-product. That means we’re able to generate dual value from the land.
By producing two products from raw materials, we’re demonstrating that sustainable biofuels and food don’t have to conflict but can support each other to serve both people and planet. These practices also have further benefits, such as reducing Europe’s dependency on soy imports – and with it, imported deforestation – and creating thousands of green local jobs in the sector.
Collaborating across the bioeconomy
To achieve lasting change at scale, we must stop working within our sector-specific siloes and collaborate across the bioeconomy. For example, we’re working with partners to improve crop yields and reduce emissions at the same time by limiting how much we use mineral-based fertilizers and developing bio-sourced fertilizers.
Our subsidiary company Saipol has also launched a digital marketplace for sourcing sustainable seeds for biofuels, supporting sustainable practices among farmers here in France. This platform is Called OleoZE, and it came about as part of the 4 per 1000 initiative at COP21, and rewards farmers with above-market prices for efforts to reduce GHG emissions from their processes. In 2020, 80,000 tonnes of rapeseed and sunflower seeds from sustainable farming practices were marketed via
the OleoZE platform, generating 2 million euros of premiums for the agricultural sector. Saipol expects to purchase 10% of its seeds through the platform over the next three to four years.
Driving change, together
To drive further progress across the bioeconomy, we’re proud to be part of the BioAdvantage Europe coalition, along with Lantmännen, DB Schenker, Scania, Shell and Yara. Together, we’re working to create a unified and informed dialogue with EU policymakers about how to untap the full potential of the bioeconomy.
The coalition brings a united vision and voice to sectors that often act in siloes and demonstrates the value of collective intelligence in tackling systemic challenges such as climate change and population growth. Through the bioeconomy, we believe there is a huge opportunity to embed sustainable agriculture practices across Europe and ensure our future food systems support both people and planet.
Written by BioAdvantage Europe coalition partner, Kristell Guizouarn, Group European Affairs Director & New Energy Strategy Director, Avril, as first published here.
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