Bioenergy: Five principles for recovery and acceleration

In August 2020, the Biofuture Platform launched a set of voluntary principles designed to help economies create jobs in the bioenergy sector. The Biofuture Platform is a government-led, multi-stakeholder initiative supporting international coordination for a low-carbon bioeconomy. The bioenergy sector, currently employing around 3 million people worldwide, was severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, research by the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests that investing in biofuels could be a very cost-effective way to create jobs while playing a key role in decarbonizing the energy sector.

The following five principles developed by the Biofuture Platform are non-binding and non-prescriptive. Several countries, such as Brazil, Canada, and India, have already implemented policies in line with the principles or are planning to do so:

  1. “Do not backtrack”: Countries should ensure the continuity and long-term predictability of their bioenergy and policy mechanisms.
  2. “Consider short-term COVID support for producers,” for example in relief packages.
  3. “Reassess fossil fuel subsidies”: Countries should take advantage of low oil prices to consider reforming fossil fuel subsidies.
  4. “Build Back Better with Bio”: Counties are encouraged to include bioenergy investments/targets in broader recovery packages.
  5. “Reward sustainability”: Mechanisms that reward sustainability should be integrated into policies.

Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, underlined the key role of bioenergy for a green recovery:

“Bioenergy is the overlooked giant of the renewable energy sector and will be paramount to a successful global energy transition. But its growth is currently not on track to meet sustainable development goals. It is critical that governments incorporate bioenergy in their COVID economic recovery plans, promoting jobs in the sector and ensuring its considerable potential does not remain untapped.”