GRFA: Biofuels must play bigger role in mitigating climate change

By Global Renewable Fuels Alliance | September 14, 2016

On Sept. 14, Bliss Baker, president of the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance, reacted to global temperature analyses released by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration that showed 2016 is on track to overtake 2014 and 2015 as the hottest year ever recorded. Recent data from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has shown upward trends in both average global temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations in 2016, with both sets of readings approaching the symbolic limits on which the Paris Agreement reached at COP21 were based. 

“These latest findings clearly outline the need for signatories of the Paris Agreement to take all available steps to significantly reduce their national emissions without delay” Baker said. “The current potential for the increased use of biofuels, like ethanol, in the global transport sector represents substantial CO2 emission reductions that aren’t being fully exploited” he added.

Biofuel technologies are demonstrated to be affordable, immediately available and effective at reducing GHG emissions. In 2014, total GHG emissions reduction from global ethanol production and use was 169 million metric tons CO2 equivalent. With a conservative annual biofuel production growth rate of just 2.8 percent, emissions savings from ethanol would increase 56 percent to 264 million metric tons CO2 equivalent in 2030.

The new NASA temperature analysis followed figures released in July that showed that average global temperatures in the first six months of 2016 were 1.3C hotter than the pre-industrial era. These readings contrast sharply with the main aim of the Paris Agreement which sought to keep global temperature rise “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, with an aspirational target of 1.5 degrees Celsius, above pre-industrial levels this century. 

“It is clear that changes to the global climate are occurring faster than was predicted when the timelines for the negotiations at COP21 were established” Baker said. “The potential for the increased use of biofuels in the global transport sector, using the existing fleet of cars and fuel infrastructure, represents exactly the kind of immediate action to achieve emissions reductions that is demanded by these changing circumstances” he concluded.