Brussels, 07 Sep 2004
A report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has urged governments to change their policies aimed at encouraging the development of biomass, introducing strategies for encouraging technological innovation, rather than simply offering financial incentives.
The potential of biomass has been widely recognised by governments and industry alike. It presents a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and of increasing the diversity of energy supplies, thus increasing energy security. It is environmentally friendly, and could give a much-needed boost to rural incomes and employment opportunities.
Agriculture is one of the leading sources for biomass, and can be used to create both bioenergy, such as biodiesel, and biomaterials, such as bioplastics.
'Within the context of broader national goals of sustainable development and sustainable agriculture, a number of governments have articulated a vision for the bio-based economy as an engine of growth and market innovation,' states the OECD report 'Biomass and agriculture: sustainability, markets and policies'. However, policies have often been introduced with the aim of maintaining and diversifying farm incomes rather than developing a biobased economy.
The report notes that building up a biobased economy 'necessitates the development of a coherent and integrated biomass policy framework that cuts across traditional ministerial boundaries.' It also requires governments to address high research costs through reducing technology costs.
In addition to raising the level of biomass research, governments are also urged to improve education and public awareness in the field. The result of channelling research and development into market-focused projects such as large-scale pilot testing could yield rapid results, the report concludes.
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