Bioenergy and the sustainability transition: from local resource to global commodity

Aug 2007

The looming threat of climate change and the invaluable role of energy in development have complicated the global transition to sustainable energy while also increasing the urgency of the transition. Bioenergy has a key role in this transition due to its unique characteristics among renewable energy sources, the concentration of bioenergy potential in major developing country regions, and the close relationship between biomass resources and carbon management strategies.
This paper offers a review and a conceptual model for bioenergy’s role in the transition, outlining its key elements and their significance with respect to environment and development.
In spite of the globalising economy, the security of energy supply continues to be threatened by geo-political conflicts. Continued expansion of energy consumption is also constrained by its environmental impacts—locally, regionally, and globally. At the same time, two billion persons have little or no access to modern energy services. The diversity and flexibility of bioenergy systems offers opportunities to bridge some of the key divisions—technical, political, economic, and environmental—that have complicated international efforts to address climate change and promote equitable development of global resources. The challenge is to take advantage of the heterogeneity of biomass resources to facilitate the most effective use of those resources in the emerging bio-economy.

By: F. X. Johnson (Stockholm Environment Institute)

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