Industrial biotechnology has the potential to save the planet up to 2.5 billion tons of CO2 emissions per year and support building a sustainable future, a WWF report found.
As the world is debating how to cut dangerous emissions and come together in an international agreement treaty which will help protect the planet from potentially devastating effects of climate change, innovative ideas how to reduce our CO2 are very valuable.
A recent report published by WWF Denmark identifies the potential to be between 1 billion and 2.5 billion tons CO2 per year by 2030, more than Germany’s total reported emissions in 1990. Industrial biotechnology could help create a true 21st century green economy, the report states.
Industrial biotechnology applications are already widely used in everyday life. They help reduce the amount of time needed to bake fresh bread, increase the yield in wine, cheese and vegetable oil production and save heat in laundry washing. “Low carbon biotech solutions are a good example of hidden or invisible climate solutions that are all around us already today but are easy to overlook for policymakers, investors and companies.” says John Kornerup Bang, Head of Globalization Program at WWF Denmark and coauthor of the report.
A newer example on how biotechnology solutions could help reduce carbon emissions is the harvesting of biogas from waste digesters and wastewater streams. The report emphasizes the potential of taking that existing technology even one step further and creating fully closed loop systems.
Biorefineries are able to transform any biobased waste material into a valuable feedstock for the production of other biobased materials. The possible emission reductions for such processes are estimated to be as high as 633 million tons of CO2.
The report indentifies four fundamental dimensions of industrial biotechnology: Improved efficiency, the substitution of fossil fuels, the substitution of oil-based materials and the creation of a closed loop system with the potential to eliminate waste. But as with most technologies, the potential to achieve sustainability objectives does not automatically translate into such goals being realized.
“Politicians need to set the path toward a green economy. This will not be easy, and we must look for new solutions, which can help us reduce emissions very quickly. It is clear that there is no alternative to explore these innovative pathways,” John Kornerup Bang said.
Source: WWF, press release, 2009-09-17.