Lola Cárdenas, Chief Representative in the European Union for
the UNICA (Photo/Courtesy: Bioenergi)
About half of Brazil’s energy comes from renewable sources and sugarcane is a key element in the country’s energy matrix, accounting for almost 18% of all the energy used by the country. That makes for a particularly relevant case study on how a once highly dependent country on fossil fuel imports can become a leading user of renewable energy, a lesson that could yield positive results for the European Union according to Lola Cárdenas, Chief Representative in the European Union for the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA).
In a presentation at the World Bioenergy Conference, held in Jönköping, Sweden, from May 29 to 31, Cárdenas detailed how Brazilian sugarcane ethanol, which offers the highest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions savings, can help the EU meet its 2020 environmental and climate change targets. More than 600 delegates from around the globe watched a number of panel discussions, including one focused on sustainability schemes for biofuels and their importance in today’s scenario.
Cárdenas explained that the Brazilian sugarcane industry is committed not only to demonstrate compliance with EU sustainability requirements, but to go beyond established criteria. “Fourteen Brazilian mills have already been Bonsucro certified, a process that would be incentivized if demand for Brazilian ethanol increased,” she added.
On environmental and sustainable practices of the sugarcane industry, Cárdenas described significant progress by the sugarcane industry in Brazil to promote sustainability. “Sugarcane, which reduces GHG emissions by 90% on average compared to gasoline, is a low carbon solution that can be used to produce a wide range of clean and renewable products. It can help Europe to improve energy security by diversifying both fuel supply and suppliers while decreasing GHG emissions, but to do so, barriers to trade must be removed”, she concluded.
The panel was moderated by Ria Kalf from the Dutch Bioenergy Association, with the International Energy Agency’s Anselm Eisentraut and the Russian Energy Agency’s Olga Ulasevich among the presenters. UNICA’s presence at the event was made possible through its ongoing agreement with Apex-Brasil, a partnership launched in January of 2008 and renewed in September of 2010. The main objective of the partnership is to promote Brazilian sugarcane ethanol throughout the world as a clean, renewable energy source.