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G7 heads call for decarbonisation of industry

G7 Climate, Energy and Environment Ministers have announced a wide range of actions to tackle “the triple global crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution”.

The G7 ministers underlined the importance of efforts to improve energy efficiency, the need for increased investment in renewable energy, tracking of methane emissions. They also highlighted that it will be important to reduce the EU’s reliance on Russian natural gas and oil. In their final communiqué they devoted particular attention the Internnational Energy’s (IEA) recent report on “Achieving Net Zero Heavy Industry Sectors in G7 Members”, which was produced at the request of Germany’s G7 Presidency. The report lays out a series of recommendations for G7 economies to advance the transition towards near zero emission steel and cement production as well as in the energy sector.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol stressed that “the world does not need to choose between the energy crisis and the climate crisis. We can solve both of them with the right investment.” Dr Birol urged decision makers “not to lock in our future by using the current situation as an excuse” to justify investments in large, long-term fossil fuel projects that are inconsistent with efforts to reduce global emissions to net zero.

However, neither the G7 ministers nor Fatih mentioned the biotech “drop-in” solutions that already exist or are about to be launched. These could help reduce growing CO2 emissions immediately while reducing dependence on Russian gas and oil. For example, U.S. biotech firm Lanzatech Inc has established a microbial production platform that can produce chemicals and fuels such as biobutanol with identical energy content to gasoline while consuming and sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide. On an industrial scale, the company is already producing bioethanol as an admixture for aviation fuel from the exhaust gases of Chinese steelworks in cooperation with Shell and Vattenfall. Biobutanol coming to market next year will have the same energy density as gasoline and could help neutralize CO2 emissions from both the transportation and energy sectors at current levels, if broadly applied.

In addition, Austria’s Krajete GmbH has been marketing for a decade a microbial process that produces biomethane on an industrial scale from carbon dioxide emissions and hydrogen, which can be injected into the natural gas grid and could dramatically reduce dependence on Russian gas imports.

In the construction sector, U.S. company Biomanson is commercialising a microbial production process for bioconcrete that binds atmospheric CO2 instead of emitting it. Its stated goal is to cut a quarter of the global CO2 emissions by the construction industry by 2030.

In the food and feed sector, companies such as Deepbranch (UK), Solar Foods (Finland) or Austria’s Arkeon Biotechnologies have developed technologies to produce amino acids and proteins from CO2 and H2 that can help drastically curb high-emission factory farming by producing meat alternatives that are land- and commodity-price neutral.

What the processes of industrial biotechnology, so far largely ignored by the EU Commission in favour of agricultural solutions, are capable of achieving will be presented at the Industria Biotec event in Berlin on 7 October. Some of this can be read in European Biotechnology.
According to a report published today by the European Court of Auditors, the EU has failed to meet its self-imposed target of spending at least 20% of its money on climate action between 2014 and 2020. while the European Commission claimed the EU spent €216bn on climate action during the period, meeting the 20% target, the auditors found that the reported spending was not always climate-relevant and that the total amount of climate change spending was overstated by at least €72bn. They also expressed concern that the Commission’s figures could also be unreliable for the period 2021-2027, when the EU’s climate change spending target will be even higher – at 30%. This shows that tackling the climate crisis is not as high on the political agenda as stated publicly.

According to leading climate scientists, the facts have been on the table for 50 years. They cannot explain policy inaction and point to the need for immediate action to limit global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels