June 1, 2012, Jonkoping, Sweden - During the final day at World Bioenergy, the focus of the conference shifted to discussions surrounding the sustainability of the industry.
Representatives from eight organizations and five continents (North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Africa) discussed what industry, government and everyday consumers need to do in order to ensure the establishment of a sustainable energy market. That includes not just providing for developed countries, but creating a model that supports them as well.
One initiative that could help establish global sustainable energy is a new set of standards being worked on by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Montreal-native Kevin McKinley, the Deputy Secretary General of ISO, was at World Bioenergy to discuss the development of ISO 13065 – Sustainable Criteria on Bioenergy. The standards, currently in their third draft, focus on the environmental, social and economic impact of bioenergy. Over 140 countries are participating in the development of the standards, with members of each having the opportunity to contribute their ideas through national representation. In Canada, that representation is the Standards Council of Canada, who have been actively contributing to ISO 13065.
Samantha Smith, head of the World Wildlife Fund’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative, spoke at length about the realities of 2050 as explained in the WWF’s Living Planet report. At our current rate, our world will be using the equivalent of three planets worth of resources, and will house roughly nine billion people. According to the report, sustainability can be reached through a combination of sustainable consumption and equity, responsible governance and corporate social responsibility linked with credible sustainability standards and certification.
The food versus fuel debate was discussed at length, and attempts at finding balance will be difficult, especially in developing nations. With a high demand for bringing food equity to the global economy, it is becoming more and more difficult to set aside land for slow growing plantations like trees. Therefore, alcohol-based fuels need to see continued growth as replacements for fossil fuels, according to Harry Stokes of Project Gaia. This includes using excess stock of ethanol resources in countries like Brazil to replace the use of kerosene in African nations like Nigeria. That change in fuel will also lead to reduce deaths from smoke inhalation, something that Project Gaia hopes to do with their initiative.
It is evident from the presentations that bioenergy will play a significant role in the transition of the global energy economy. Thanks to the work of the Canadian representatives at World Bioenergy, Canada could become a major player in that transition in the years to come.
Andrew Macklin is reporting from World Bioenergy on behalf of Canadian Biomass magazine.
For more coverage on World Bioenergy 2012, please see: Part 1 - Getting Started in Sweden, Part 2 - Strong Canadian Presence at World Bioenergy, Part 3 - The Future of fuels and Part 4 - British Columbia Bioenergy.