Fuels of the Future 2017 – International Conference on Renewable Mobility
BIOFUEL AND COMMODITY MARKETS IN THE CONTEXT OF GLOBAL FOOD SUPPLY
Berlin, 12 December 2016. With the ratification of the Paris agreement on climate change, the signatory states will have to publish binding action plans for decarbonization, particularly, in the transport sector by 2020. At a global level, the decarbonization of transport is one of the most effective ways for realizing the climate protection targets. Next to higher engine efficiencies and the simultaneous hybridization of engine technologies, biofuels will have to play an important role in terms of a bridging function. There is a simple reason for this: they are already available and with biofuels from cultivated biomass, it will be possible to make an immediate and effective contribution to the lowering of emissions in existing vehicle fleets. Against this backdrop, the European Union should have an interest in pursuing post-2020 support policies in order to be able to continue to take part in the definition of sustainability requirements and the certification schemes that have been approved by the European Commission so far.
In this critical but also crucial environment as regards the future of biofuels in the European Union, the forum “Commodity markets in the context of international trade flows and price developments” during the 14th International Conference on Renewable Mobility will discuss facts and issues surounding the question of how food security can be brought in line with the future demand for biomass for biofuel production. Keith Klein, a researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Center for BioENERGY and Sustainability, USA, will speak in detail on this topic.
These issues are closely linked to the question of what connection exists between the global biofuel market and the agricultural markets and how the oil price influences price formation. Dr. Klaus-Dieter Schumacher, an expert for agricultural markets at Agri Consult, will explore these interrelationships in his presentation including an overview of the actual amounts and end uses of agricultural crops.
The appropriate assessment of the biomass supply for biofuel production will be discussed with the participants both as regards the European Union and third countries. Brazil has already announced its intention to include its biofuel policy based on bioethanol from sugar cane into its national action plan. Other signatories of the Paris agreement will follow, according to market experts, not least because structural supply surpluses such as on the global vegetable oil markets make this kind of “market intervention” with the aim of stabilizing supplies and prices necessary.
At this point, biofuel critics point towards the effects of the associated indirect land-use changes, arguing that the supplies withdrawn from the food markets need to be offset by making further land available. This criticism focuses mainly on the deforestation on peatlands and the additional emissions known as “iLUC factors”, which are released in the process. But can these effects, when calculated on the basis of indirect modelling methodologies, also be used to derive scientifically valid results for the drafting of corresponding policies and regulations? Hugo Valin from the International Institute for Applied System Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria, will take a stand on this question. His institute was in charge of the so-called “GLOBIOM project” for the European Commission, which had the objective of enabling a new assessment of the negative effects of emissions according to biomass feedstocks.
In view of the criticism leveled above all from environmental organizations on the use of palm oil not only as a biofuel, but also for use in many other fields of application in petrochemistry and at the level of the private households, Martina Fleckenstein, WWF Germany will provide an overview of the findings of a WWF study that has been conducted on this topic.
Given this controversy on the supply of commodities, the policy-makers have seen a way out in a stronger promotion of biofuels from waste and residual materials. But here, too, the availability, greenhouse gas efficiency and therefore also sustainability remain issues to be resolved. After all, the use of residual materials such as straw – which, ultimately, is also the result of biomass being produced on arable land – raises the question of whether the current legally prescribed emission factor of “0 g CO2 / MJ” is an appropriate solution when it turns a residual into a “valuable” material. In his presentation, Detlef Evers, Mittelstandsverband Abfall basierter Kraftstoffe, will take a closer look at the potential and the prospects of biofuels produced from these raw materials.
With this forum, the 14th International Conference on Renewable Mobility, Fuels of the Future 2017, which will take place from 23-24 January 2017 in Berlin, addresses highly topical issues influencing the public opinion, but, in particular, the opinion of political decision-makers when it comes to the prospects of biofuel policy beyond 2020. The conference will be held prior to the European Parliament's voting procedure, which is expected for the spring of 2017, on the proposals of the European Commission envisaged for December 2016. In that sense, the conference will take place “at the right time” to engage in discussions with representatives from the industry, science and, above all, from politics, and to make an impact on the formation of opinions.
Further information: www.fuels-of-the-future.com/programme/