Thursday, 05 March 2020 12:51

From fossil to bio: Peak coal, peak oil, and even peak meat?

Written by  Torfi Jóhannesson (PA Bioeconomy Coordinator) and Esben Lanthén

The bioeconomy will play a significant role in the green transition as it enables a shift from a fossil fuels-based economy to one based on renewable biological resources. It has gained traction in numerous sectors and industries, which have shaped the world and will arguably have an even greater impact in the coming decade.

As a key focus point for EU strategy discussions along with circular economy principles, the bioeconomy is becoming central to many sustainable development efforts.


Reaching peaks for a greener future

In the Nordic region, we are seeing significant and exciting changes as alternatives to fossil fuels begin to take center stage. This has recently been quantified in the State of the Nordic Region 2020 report that shows us how the Nordic region is the European leader with its share of renewable energy per capita.

The great news is not only to be found in the Nordics, however. At the global level, we are seeing IEA data supporting a peak in coal from the all-time high in 2014 despite recent years having shown moderate increases. According to IEA’s World Energy Outlook, this needs to happen for oil as well, to reach the targets set in the Paris Agreement. Other tipping points are also looming; several European countries have already reached peak-meat and peak-milk, and wood-biomass is not everywhere seen as a long-term solution. In this sense, we are seeing the peaks in the use of fossil fuels getting closer, but at the same time we are also be looking into a future where some bio-based resource streams will also have to have peaked.

Moving towards peaks for oil and fossil fuels as well as for meat protein sources, tells us that society is slowly but surely stepping onto a path towards a use of more sustainable options. As we reach peak after peak, the bioeconomy will not only help us use resources in better and more innovational ways, but it also creates entirely new options, and on accordance, new industries.


Bioeconomy benefiting the Baltic Sea Region

In our work with an upcoming analysis of trends within the bioeconomy, it is becoming increasingly clear that we are faced with a variety of challenges as well as novel opportunities relating to the development of the bioeconomy. Some of the preliminary and noteworthy trends include: the rise of algae, the use of new sources of protein, the value-adding potential of localized products, as well as growing opportunities for the utilization of industrial side streams.

These are merely a few examples of what the analysis is showing, but we strongly encourage you to provide us with further feedback by completing our survey. Your input can have an effect on political decision-making that will shape the future of the bioeconomy. 


So where is the bioeconomy heading?

As the world grapples with how to effectively tackle climate change, the bioeconomy is more relevant than ever. Having a solid understanding of the trends will help policymakers navigate in this new reality and create new regulatory frameworks for the industries to follow. Policymakers will hopefully take an interest as the bioeconomy offers value across the socio-economic spectrum: the bioeconomy is linked to social benefits such as high employment rates, stable economic growth, and increased investment in research and education. In fact, an average of 17.1% of jobs in the Nordic Region are in bioeconomy sectors.

The bioeconomy trend analysis will be published in June 2020 at the EUSBSR Annual Forum and targets the countries in the Baltic Sea region as well the Nordic North Atlantic and Northwest Russia. The overall results will support policy dialogues within the national and regional stakeholders of EUSBSR and the Nordic Council of Ministers.

We need you

As part of the process of developing the trend analysis, we need your help to shape the policy future of the sustainable bioeconomy by taking the survey relating to the trends. To participate and complete the survey, please set aside 20 minutes and follow this link:

Read 12291 times Last modified on Monday, 09 March 2020 09:49