Industrial biotechnology has the potential to save the planet up to 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year and support building a sustainable future, a new WWF report found.
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. Industrial biotechnology could help create a true 21st century green economy, the report states.
WWF Denmark identified the potential to be between 1 billion and 2.5 billion tons of CO2 per year by 2030, more than Germany’s total reported emissions in 1990.
"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.
Denmark-based industrial biotechnology company Novozymes (NVZ.L) supported the research in this report. Novozymes is one of the many green stocks covered in Progressive Investor. Click here to learn more.
The report can be downloaded at the link below.