All posts filed under: bioeconomy debate

Online congress: How much bioeconomy can our planet cope with?

Alternative Bioeconomy Summit (online), February 23, 2022 What has to be on the agenda of the new federal government, to design a socially just and ecologically sustainable economy of the future ? Again and again, salvation has been promised by bioeconomy – an economic system operating with biological resources. Though, farmland, forests and oceans can supply a limited amount of biomass only, and most ecosystems are already under enormous pressure. Now and then, the production of agricultural goods in the Global South is obtained at the cost of serious human rights violations, while in Germany an increasing social division is threatening social peace. Not an easy starting point for developing the economy of the future. Ultimately, the often-cited planetary boundaries must become the cast for practical policies without neglecting the fair distribution of natural resources. Experts from environmental and development organizations, politics, science and specialist authorities come together at this Bioeconomy Action Forum Online Summit to define guardrails for a sustainable future. Please use the following link to register : https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwtc-qvrDMqH9buU-jfLKlTrFPWW1ySE-dm Event with impulses from, …

Mission implementation plan – Bioeconomy Council is on its way

The newly appointed Bioeconomy Council is to support the German government with expertise in the phase-out of the fossil economy. The success of this change also depends on the Council’s commitment to a socio-ecological transformation. All good things come in threes. To what extent this proverb applies to the Bioeconomy Council, which is now being launched in its third edition, remains to be seen. In December 2020, the Federal Government appointed the council for three years, composed of a total of twenty scientists and associations representatives. New this time is that the ministries for the environment and development cooperation, among others, were actively involved in the appointment of the council members. Accordingly, the round of experts is now more diverse, recruited from the biotech lobby all the way to the environmental movement. In contrast to the past, this is a clear step forward: until now, the Council was the domain of more technology-friendly departments and therefore not a haven for ecological and justice issues. In this respect, it is hardly surprising how biased the previous …

Impulses for the Bioeconomy Council

Position paper for pdf download here! The bioeconomy can only contribute to a sustainable future if our economy is put to the test and undergoes a comprehensive socio-ecological transformation. The Bioeconomy Council should therefore advocate for clear policy frameworks and guard rails within which the bioeconomy can be shaped sustainably. Due to the expected enormous demand for biomass, an indefinitely growing bioeconomy can become an additional threat to global ecosystems and the people who live on them. Already today, planetary boundaries have been exceeded in essential areas. In addition to the climate crisis and the massive change in land use, the loss of biodiversity and genetic diversity as well as the overloading of the phosphorus and nitrogen cycles show an excess that can destroy our livelihoods. Consequently, the bioeconomy also needs clearly defined growth limits to ensure economic activity within planetary boundaries. A realistic picture of the potentials should guide the implementation of the bioeconomy. Aspects related to the common good, such as food security, water availability, biodiversity and climate protection, as well as access …

Bioplastics – Sustainable Alternative or Just Another Eco-Lie?

From Paula Leutner Plastic has been polluting our oceans for years. From fishing nets to plastic bottles to straws – plastic in all its forms and variations is floating in the waters between Bremerhaven, Hawaii and Hong Kong. In other words: Everywhere. But the image problem of plastic is not only based on its destructive end of life, but also on its origin. Conventional plastic is made from crude oil and is therefore not exactly climate-friendly. Now there are supposed to be new solutions, which the industry is already happily embracing: Bio-plastics that come with a green promise. But what’s really up with this plastic – sustainable alternative or just another organic lie? The term itself already causes some confusion. Because ‘bio’ is not always organic and can mean both that the plastic is made from biological resources or that the end product itself is biodegradable. Numerous companies are already advertising that they offer such bioplastics. Coca Cola is designing the PlantBottle, Pepsi together with Nestlé and Danone the NaturAll Bottle, LEGO wants to convert …

Bioeconomy: cutting back expectations

In terms of quantity, fossil fuels can not be entirely substituted  by renewable resources. A sustainable bioeconomy requires systemic transformations of the economy that is currently growth-oriented. The first conference of the “Bioeconomy in the Light of Sustainability” project, funded by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation and carried out by denkhausbremen in cooperation with BUND, took place on September 7th and 10th, 2020. In addition to representatives of the relevant environmental and development organisations, experts from science, specialist authorities and politics also took part. They discussed the status quo of agriculture and forestry with regard to the preservation of biodiversity and possible raw material potentials for a future bioeconomy. Ute Feit from the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation made it clear that biodiversity has so far been insufficiently addressed in bioeconomy discussions. At the same time, conflicts of goals resulting from different demands on the available land – such as biomass production, climate protection and biodiversity conservation – were also addressed and discussed. In the first keynote, Joachim Spangenberg (BUND) and Wolfgang Kuhlmann (denkhausbremen) …

Best Practice: Pioneers of a Sustainable Bioeconomy?

The possibilities that the bioeconomy can provide, become visible in the practical applications. However, in order to contribute to a socio-ecological transformation, the revision of the policy framework for bioeconomy uses is needed. At the second conference of the project “Bioeconomy in the Light of Sustainability”, which took place on November 10th and 12th, 2020, everything revolved around examples from bioeconomy practice. To what extent can companies and research projects as pioneers contribute to the success of the bioeconomy in the context of a socio-ecological transformation – and where do they run the risk of being mere green washers of a non-sustainable economy focused on growth ? Participants from environmental and development organisations, scientific institutes and specialised authorities explored this question. The current state of the world’s ecosystems is very worrying. Arable land and forests are constantly overexploited and biodiversity is rapidly dwindling. According to the World Biodiversity Council IPBES, industrial land use is the main driver of the current species extinction. In the context of the bioeconomy, the conference intensively discussed the possible contribution …

Limits to Growth for the Bioeconomy

Press memo: Bremen, April 16, 2021 Environmental and development associations are giving the German Bioeconomy Council a paper with their demands on the way The newly appointed Bioeconomy Council should impose a consistent socio-ecological transformation of the economy on the German government. This is what the environmental and development organisations involved in the Bioeconomy Action Forum are demanding in view of the Bioeconomy Council meeting next week on April 19 and 20, 2021. The key points for a socially just and ecologically sustainable bioeconomy are explained by the associations in their joint declaration “Impulses for the Bioeconomy Council”, which was handed over to the Council members in the run-up to the meeting. The environmental and development organizations demand, among other things, that the interests of nature, resource and climate protection be enforced in biomass production, that genetic engineering be effectively regulated and that biomass imports be restricted. In addition, the NGOs continue, food security and human rights should not be further jeopardised in the course of the bioeconomy, research funding should set new priorities, and …

We need a fundamentally different economy!

  by Jenny Walther-Thoß, WWF While the world population is growing arithmetically, the available land area per person is becoming smaller and smaller, while at the same time the demand for fossil raw materials such as oil continues to rise. The substitution of fossil raw materials with renewable raw materials for a transition to a bioeconomy can only succeed if we produce and consume less overall. Photo: © Eva-Maria Lopez In this debate, the bioeconomy is the silver lining for many stakeholders to keep our growth-oriented economic system running with minimal adjustments. The basic idea is this: a pinch of efficiency combined with a bit more recycling will allow us to replace fossil carbon, on which industry is currently largely dependent, with renewable resources without having to fundamentally change our consumption patterns and lifestyles. The “cornification of the landscape” has become a symbol of misguided biofuel subsidies and has driven the debate in the energy sector. Representatives of the chemical industry, on the other hand, are quite euphoric about new business areas in the field …

Will the bioeconomy fail due to a lack of water?

  by Nik Geiler, BBU The bioeconomy threatens global freshwater resources. As biomass imports play an important role in the expansion of the bioeconomy, water conflicts are inevitable, particularly in the Global South. Foto: © Eva-Maria Lopez Plant growth requires land and large quantities of water. An ample water supply is therefore essential for a successful bioeconomy. When rainfall is insufficient, irrigation becomes obligatory to produce the biomass needed for the bioeconomy (corn, palm oil, sugar cane, algae and many other crops). The water demand for the German bioeconomy can be expressed as a water backpack or water footprint. The more fossil fuels and raw materials (coal, oil, natural gas) are replaced by biomass, the more our water footprint increases. This footprint is left mainly abroad. Germany’s large appetite for biomass to feed the bioeconomy, cannot be sufficiently satisfied by plant production on German territory (c.f. land competition). The biomass needed for the production of agrofuels and other plant-based products (e.g. bio-surfactants) is mainly imported from overseas producer countries. Problems occur especially in regions that …

Clean biomass energy to combat climate change?

  by Thomas Fatheuer, FDCL Globally, the share of renewable energy from biomass is 50%, in Germany even 60.2%. In the frame of bioeconomy, the targeted increase in biomass energy production competes with food production and increases the pressure on ecosystems and their inhabitants. Foto: © Eva-Maria Lopez Bioeconomy is supposed to provide an answer to three fundamental challenges for humanity: climate change, food security, resource scarcity. To effectively combat climate change, it is necessary to phase out the fossil fuels coal, oil and natural gas. No doubt, this represents a gigantic task. The German energy transition focuses on the expansion of wind and solar energy. The importance of energy generated by biomass is often neglected. Yet 60.2% of “renewable” energy in Germany derives from biomass, whereas wind power accounts for only 22%. This large proportion is due to the dominant importance of biomass in satisfying heating needs. For heating, the share of renewable energy is 83%. The global situation is similar. The International Energy Agency (IEA) states: “Modern bioenergy is the ignored giant in …