We’re at a critical inflection point, with the chance to fundamentally change our direction and create new economic models that promote sustainability, prosperity and inclusivity. Earth, and the species that call it home, are facing a climate emergency.
But to meet the emission reduction targets set out in the Paris Agreement, EU Climate Law, the Green Deal and the ‘Fit for 55’ package, we must drastically reduce emissions across Europe and across sectors – and fast.
This means Europe must significantly decarbonise whilst maintaining its commitment to greater employment, innovation and biodiversity. And the business community is rising again and again to this challenge. By collaborating with these businesses and policymakers across Europe, we can help shape policy framework that will support our road to decarbonisation.
In 2020, the European Commission established the European Green Deal, signalling the leadership role it aims to play in ‘the decade of action’. Leading companies are joining forces, too, through the BioAdvantage Europe coalition launched today (part of the Europe Delivers partnership formed by Xynteo). With our partners – Avril, DB Schenker, Lantmännen, Scania, Shell, and Yara – we are working to create a unified and informed dialogue with EU policymakers on how, together, we can untap the full potential of Europe’s bioeconomy.
It spans all of Europe’s important natural ecosystems: agriculture; aquaculture; forestry; and all the products and waste streams that arise from these activities. This includes food and feed, forest and crop residues, sewage and manure, bioenergy, biofuels, and bio-based chemicals and materials.
Last year, we collaborated on several policy papers showing how the bioeconomy could support the European Green Deal and its recovery, advance the continent’s biodiversity & climate goals, while creating high-value “green” jobs. This was done with deep insights from our partners and leading policymakers from Brussels and Europe’s member states.
Under the leadership of Scania and Yara, we are now exploring the potential of producing sustainable biofuels on European land that is not suitable for growing food or feed. The aim is to address in practice and head on the food vs. fuel, import and sustainability challenges of first-generation biofuels.
By focusing primarily on former coal mining sites in Central and Eastern Europe, we hope to demonstrate the value of biofuels production and usage – particularly in regions that might otherwise be left behind in the low-carbon energy transition. We also hope to showcase the many other benefits of the bioeconomy – restoring old industrial sites in ways that increase biodiversity, using agricultural processes to capture carbon, reducing GHG emissions, while creating new bio-based industries and jobs. And by producing sustainable biofuels from domestic feedstock on land unsuitable for food or feed, we can reduce dependency on unsustainable imports and circumvent the food vs fuel debate.
Such initiatives support the Renewable Energy Directive’s (REDII) target for transport and help to meet the biofuel targets in the EU while reducing the need for imports which are damaging environments. After all the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenarios show that more than a three-fold increase in European biofuel consumption by 2030, and over 2000x increase in the production of sustainable aviation fuel, from 15 million litres in 2018 to 37 billion litres by 2030 is required.
As Henrik Henriksson, CEO of Scania, says, “sustainability and profitability go hand in hand. If you do not transform your company to become truly sustainable, you will soon not be relevant”.
Henriksson has set a goal for 50% of the vehicles that Scania sells to be electric by 2030. To reach its longer-term goal to be fossil free by 2045, “we need another sustainable liquid solution as well.,” he says. “To meet our emission reduction targets, we need a holistic approach. Sustainable biofuels and the bioeconomy play an enormous part in this.”
Yara’s CEO, Svein Tore Holsether, shares Henriksson’s optimism about sustainable biofuels. “By adapting our business model and partnering throughout the value chain, we are creating new business opportunities, jobs and competitive advantage in Europe,” he says. “The BioAdvantage Europe coalition and this demonstration project, is taking us one step closer to achieving this in Europe’s bioeconomy.”
By working with partners across the bioeconomy, the BioAdvantage Europe coalition can create a unified message and a constructive dialogue with EU policymakers on how together, we can fully unleash the bioeconomy and its potential for Europe’s green recovery and sustainable and inclusive growth.
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