May 30, 2012, Jonkoping, Sweden - Harry Stokes believes strongly in the future of alcohol-based fuels. His quiet voice takes on a stronger tone any time the subject comes up in conversation, as if he’s holding strong the courage of his convictions.
The long-time forester from south-central Pennsylvania, and former resident of Islington, Ontario, was honoured recently with the World Bioenergy 2012 award during the opening plenary session.
“There are so many people here doing such great things, and it’s a morale booster to be here and to see all of the progress that is being made,” said Stokes. “I think that there are many people here who are much more deserving of this award than I am. It is truly a humbling experience.”
Stokes received the 2012 World Bioenergy award for his work on Project Gaia, a project that pushes for a shift from the use of petroleum-based fuels for cooking to alcohol-based, both in developing and non-developing countries.
“Indoor air pollution is a big problem in Africa,” said Stokes. “Some two million people die annually from smoke inhalation and the results of that. By shifting to alcohol fuels, we remove the problem of indoor air pollution and we allow women and children to lead much healthier lives.”
While it may be easier for developing countries to accept a transition to alcohol-based fuels, countries like Canada and the United States have been reluctant to do so.
According to Stokes, a shift in thinking is needed.
“If we can get to the point where we really buy in to bioethanol as an automotive fuel and, quite frankly, as a small engine fuel, that will make a significant difference,” he said. “The Canadian government has been quite progressive on this issue. Government has to create incentives and lead with policy development to get manufacturers to come around to using biofuels.”
Stokes will present some of his findings working with Project Gaia during the final plenary session, Moving Forward Sustainably, at World Bioenergy 2012.
Andrew Macklin is reporting from World Bioenergy 2012 in Jonkoping, Sweden on behalf of Canadian Biomass magazine.
For more coverage of World Bioenergy 2012, see Part 1 - Getting Started in Sweden and Part 2 - Strong Canadian Presence at World Bioenergy.