USGC representatives share benefits of ethanol at COP27

By U.S. Grains Council | December 14, 2022

U.S. Grains Council representatives recently traveled to Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, to participate in the 2022 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), an event held each year where 197 nations come together to discuss how to jointly address climate change. 

While attending COP27, the Council participated in two panels and met with representatives from climate and agricultural associations to discuss ethanol as a climate solution pathway for the transport sector at the regional and global levels.

USGC Manager of Global Ethanol Policy and Economics Isabelle Ausdal and Jad Wakileh, USGC consultant, along with Ethanol Advisory Team lead Doug Berven, vice president of corporate affairs at POET, took part in the event.

“The future of our food and energy systems are interlinked in climate. It’s not about tradeoffs between greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, nutrition availability and energy security. If we properly communicate the benefits of conventional fuels such as ethanol, we can achieve all of the above,” Ausdal said.

Berven represented the Council on two panels at the event.

“Seven years ago, at COP21, agriculture and biofuels were viewed as a problem for climate change. This year at COP27, agriculture and biofuels were very well represented and offered potentially the greatest solutions for climate change and other global challenges,” Berven said. “Biofuels are a catalyst to successful agriculture. Successful agriculture is key to solving the world’s most pressing issues, including climate change, poverty, hunger and disease. It was clear at COP27 that this message is being heard around the world.”

The first panel, “Are we faltering on the fossil fuel phase-out?,” was hosted by the Sustainable Innovation Forum. In this diverse panel, Berven highlighted ethanol as an immediately available tool for decarbonization that supports local economies while also providing food and fuel.

The second panel, “Agriculture’s Role in Decarbonizing the Economy and Reducing GHG Emissions,” was hosted by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and organized by Solutions for the Land, a nonprofit offering national and global advocacy for land-based solutions to world problems. Berven highlighted new technologies being deployed by ethanol plants to further lower carbon intensity (CI) score through enhanced carbon capture and storage (CCS) and lowering emissions at the farm level.

“There has previously been little-to-no representation for first-generation biofuels, especially ethanol, at large-scale, global events such as COP27. It is important to further elevate ethanol’s profile at such events in the future to be included in the climate narrative. The ethanol industry has a critical story to tell and more people need to hear it,” Ausdal said.

As a result of COP27 participation, the Council introduced and advocated for ethanol within the visible, formal global climate conversation, and by doing so, positioned it to be on the agenda at COP28 through the Council’s involvement with universities, related NGOs, the U.S. government and multilateral entities.