In the transport sector, sustainable biofuels can make an almost instant contribution to decarbonisation. Scania has brought together a group of like-minded businesses to unleash the potential of the bioeconomy in Europe.
Last year Scania launched a collaboration with Xynteo, a cross-industry platform for connecting ideas, to explore the full potential for biofuels and the wider bioeconomy in Europe. Over the past six months the project has engaged experts, business leaders and stakeholders across different sectors of the bioeconomy, to map opportunities for growth and identify barriers to its development.
A report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) earlier this year, points to the need to think very differently about the importance of good land management to reach the Paris goals. The new European Commission is now actively working on its Green Deal, which increases climate ambition levels to cut emissions by 50% by 2030, while also protecting biodiversity, making food more sustainable, and ensuring a just transition.
Accelerating the bioeconomy
At this year´s Xynteo Exchange in Oslo, 500 mission-driven leaders in business, policy, academia, arts and activism met to challenge the systemic problems hampering a more sustainable development and extension of the European bioeconomy. Scania´s program from last year was further developed into one of five innovation workshops, to come up with concrete and practical solutions to accelerate the bioeconomy.
“Sustainable biofuels are the only technology that can enable us to make cuts in emissions quickly enough, here and now, in vehicles that are on the road. And we are simply not doing enough in Europe to fulfil the opportunity that biofuels offer,” Scania´s CEO Henrik Henriksson frankly noted in his introduction.
Biofuels key to start now
Biofuels and other bio-based energy are key to keep emissions below 1.5°C in the coming decades. But growth prospects for these are too weak. For example, the share of biofuels used in Europe´s transport sector has been more or less flat for the last six years. The EU’s current biofuels policy has not been set to stimulate more growth in the coming years.
A challenge for the two-day workshop in Oslo was to identify what the private sector can do by itself already today – without significant changes in infrastructure – so that decarbonisation in the transport sector can start immediately.
A specific discussion was about how to make sustainable biofuels more competitive with equivalent fossil-derived options. The costs of producing bio-based fuels are significantly higher than for equivalent fossil fuel options. And unlike other forms of renewable energy, these costs have not been falling over time.
A prerequisite for change and unleashing the potential of the bioeconomy in Europe is to increase enthusiasm and commitment from consumers and decision-makers in the EU and its nations. Today up to half of all consumers are unaware of the bioeconomy concept, and the rest have mixed attitude about it.
The Scania innovation studio at the Xynteo Exchange gathered leaders from business, policy, research and civil society operating in the bioeconomy space. Scania´s Head of Public Affairs and Sustainability, Åsa Pettersson explain why:
“We cannot solve this alone. We have a huge challenge with the climate changes. We have less than ten years to curb emissions from CO2. We know transport is a heavy contributor to CO2 emissions. At Scania we have the vehicles for this change, but it´s important to get the fossil free fuel, to fuel up the vehicles. And we are not producing or distributing fuels, so we need to find the partnerships and work along this value chain, and to cooperate like this in an open atmosphere gives us a lot of ideas. We also get help to identify the right stakeholders.”
What comes next in this collaboration?
“For us, it´s a very concrete next step. Out of the discussions here in Oslo we want to form a strong coalition, to work together on these issues. So the next step is to identify partners for this coalition, adopt a vison together and then start to reach out to decision makers on these very important issues.”