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Biofuels Vital Graphics

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Reflections on the way forward

Biofuels Vital Graphics offers a snapshot of the complexity and shortcomings of biofuels, while also addressing their potential for contributing to a green economy.

There is no doubt that biofuels can play a part in fuelling the green economy. Biofuels, as one form of bioenergy, have been and will be part of the energy mix, and can contribute to achieving renewable energy targets meant to replace fossil fuels.

There is a difference between the technical and the sustainable potential of biofuels. Further implementation of agricultural good practices and technological development will gradually increase their sustainable potential.

Safeguards are needed to address challenges that may stand in the way of healthy national, regional and global market developments for biofuels. With the right safeguards and policy frameworks in place, biofuels can offer a focused, pragmatic approach as one option for green energy. This comprises sound planning at the outset, and matching of drivers, crops, conversion routes and end-use.

It is expected that most of the potential for growth in biomass production is in developing countries. This may provide many countries with an opportunity to develop a new industrial sector, to cater for both, the internal and the international markets.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, has stated ‘With 2.5 billion people living on less than US$ 2-a-day and with more than 2 billion people being added to the global population by 2050, it is clear that we must continue to develop and grow our economies. But this development cannot come at the expense of the very life support systems on land, in the oceans or in the atmosphere that sustain our economies, and thus, the lives of each and everyone of us.’

The actual energy mix and potential for bioenergy development are contingent on country conditions and needs, but do also need to be seen in a broader context of global challenges. Albeit not the focus of Biofuels Vital Graphics, this points to a need for a shift in consumption patterns through a keen awareness of the impact of modern lifestyles.

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