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Brazilian biogas associations and World Biogas Association call Brazilian Government to include biogas in its climate action plans

In the past year, WBA has led a campaign aimed at persuading the top emitters to commit to grow their biogas industries as part of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). NDCs represent the countries’ plans to tackle climate change and set legally binding climate targets to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping global warming below 1.5 °C.

We have been working with national associations from all over the world to write joint letters to Environment Ministers, which highlight the opportunity of investing in biogas to reduce countries’ climate change contributions. Most recently, WBA has partnered with CIBiogás and ABiogás to write to the Brazilian Ministers of agriculture, energy and science and technology.

Along with the joint letter, we have shared with the Ministers the WBA’s latest report Biogas: Pathways to 2030. The report forms a policy tool kit aimed at helping stakeholders and policy makers manage, reduce, and recycle their organic wastes as a circular economy to both cut methane emissions from them and maximise their value, helping to put the world back on track to deliver on the ambitions of the Paris agreement.

Here is the full text of the letter that we sent to Tereza Cristina Correa da Costa Dias, Minister of agriculture, Bento Albuquerque, Minister of energy, and Marcos Cesar Pontes, Minister of science and technology:

At a pivotal moment for Brazil as its updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) will soon be submitted, we write to you to ask for the inclusion of biogas targets in the country’s future climate plans.

The next UN climate summit, COP26, represents a unique opportunity for countries around the world to step up their efforts to combat climate change at a critical moment as societies begin to reemerge from the COVID 19 pandemic. With China committing to a net zero target and the US re-joining climate negotiations, there is renewed hope that nations will build on the momentum to transition to a greener and safer future. Brazil has a key role to play in the concerted global effort towards addressing the climate concerns.

The Brazil’s NDC of 2015 does not specifically mention any biogas targets. The NDC somehow missed to earmark biogas as one of the potent means to prevent methane emissions from organic wastes, capture CO2, improve soil health, and help sustainable farming. The upcoming NDC does, however, create an opportunity to highlight the importance of biogas in supporting a sustainable, circular economy in both rural and urban economies. Considering the growth of the Brazilian biogas market in recent years, we believe that there will be a very positive reaction from the sector due to the national commitment. The BiogasMap, which is a digital map of the Brazilian biogas market developed by the International Center for Renewable Energy – Biogas (CIBiogas), shows a 22% growth in the number of biogas plants from 2019 to 2020.

Biogas indeed constitutes a key solution to tackle methane emissions in agriculture while boosting rural development. Agricultural wastes (i.e. manure and farm residuals) can be processed in anaerobic digesters to produce highly sustainable and useful renewable energy with multiple applications and nutrient rich bio-fertiliser that can be used as a soil amendment. Farmers are amongst the most vulnerable to climate change. Adopting on farm anaerobic digestion would not only reduce their contribution to global warming and the need for fossil-based fertilisers, but it would also improve their soil health and diversify their income with the sale of biogas. It is essential that the agricultural economy is not left out from any recovery packages and climate plans.

Furthermore, bioenergy technologies provide dispatchable power giving flexibility to the grid and supporting the deployment of decentralised renewable generation. Complementing weather dependent renewables, biogas upgraded to biomethane can be stored in the gas grid for use when the wind isn’t blowing, or the sun isn’t shining. In Brazil, biomethane allows gas applications in the interior of the country. Together, natural gas and biomethane can significantly reduce GHG emissions. The IEA has recently published a dedicated report on biogas and biomethane1 that finds that the world’s biogas and biomethane resources alone could cover 20% of global gas demand. In addition, biogas tackles GHG emissions from the transportation sector, a major contributor to climate change and one of the hardest industries to decarbonize.

Analysis carried out by the WBA shows that by recycling all organic wastes generated by humans through anaerobic digestion to produce biogas, we could reduce global emissions by 10% by 2030. WBA’s latest report, Biogas: Pathways to 20302, forms a policy tool kit aimed at helping stakeholders and policy makers manage, reduce, and recycle their organic wastes as a circular economy to not just cut methane emissions from them but maximise their value, helping to put the world back on track to deliver on the ambitions of the Paris agreement.

The Brazilian Biogas Association estimates that the residues from the Brazilian agroindustry, animal manure and sanitizing could provide enough electricity to supply 34,5% of the country demand, or to replace 70% of diesel consumption. However ,at present the industry is delivering less than 2% of its full potential.

We therefore ask for your support and urge you to include organic waste management and biogas in your enhanced climate plans and NDC. We would welcome a meeting with you or relevant officials to discuss these important issues in more detail”.

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