By Vishal Gulati

Bonn– In a major breakthrough for sustainable biofuels, India and 18 other countries — representing half of the global population and 37 per cent of the global economy — have launched a platform that aims to scale up low-carbon bio-economy.

The declaration was adopted at the UN Climate Change Conference — named COP23 — in Bonn on Thursday by member countries of the Biofuture Platform.

They are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Morocco, Mozambique, the Netherlands, Paraguay, the Philippines, Sweden, Britain and Uruguay.

The decision is set out in a declaration released by the Biofuture Platform members, “Scaling Up the Low Carbon Bioeconomy”.

It is a major step for sustainable biofuels and the broader bio-economy, which will now become a key component of the global solution to climate change.

“The declaration is the culmination of nine months of negotiations and is the first time countries and other stakeholders have formally agreed to develop targets for biofuels and the bio-economy and construct an action plan to achieve them,” an official statement said.

“What we have just accomplished here with the endorsement of this statement is quite remarkable,” the statement quoting Brazil’s Minister of the Environment Jose Sarney Filho as saying.

“The technology and the awareness of the need for bio-based solutions are finally coming together.”

The decisions announced have been informed by modelling from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) — both partners in the Biofuture Platform — concluding that the 2030 temperature goals adopted in the 2015 Paris Agreement cannot be reached without a major increase in the production and use of sustainable biofuels and bioproducts.

The IEA and IRENA believe in order to limit the increase in global average temperature to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to reach 1.5 degrees, bioenergy and biofuels’ share in the global energy matrix must be accelerated to achieve at least a doubling in the next 10 years.

In specific sectors, such as transport, the need is even greater.

“Biofuels in transport would need to grow three fold by 2030, most of it coming from advanced technologies using non-edible feedstocks, including waste and residues,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said.

In addition to developing specific targets, participating countries will “devise an action plan outlining detailed actions to support achieving the targets, and develop a reporting mechanism to track progress”.

To address such challenges, in the declaration member countries agreed that coordinated international action is required to implement policy solutions, many of which have already been adopted by member countries, including specific biofuels mandates, sustainable low-carbon agricultural policies, R&D support and incentives related to verified carbons savings.

According to the declaration, member countries also call for climate and green financing mechanisms and institutions to ramp up resourcing of bio-economy projects as a top priority. (IANS)