476365 Engendering Political and Economic Sustainability for the Transportation and Chemical Sector of the Bioeconomy

Monday, November 14, 2016: 9:40 AM
Golden Gate 2 (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
Tomas Wesley Green, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

The world is being faced with daunting challenges: food, energy, and water are growing more scarce, the climate is changing, and the cheap natural resources that changed the world are now responsible for a threat to life and environmental health. Alternatives to petroleum products and fossil fuels have existed for over a century, but have always lacked political and economic sustainability. With growing concern and urgency, the global community is attempting to change their respective economies to sustainable alternatives.

The bioeconomy is a vision for a future where biology can be leveraged to meet the needs of a growing population. This would happen with greater use of veteran technologies such as biofuels, as well as burgeoning science of employing microbial life to produce carbon-sequestering fuels and chemicals from material that would otherwise be unusable.

Prominent policy debates present political challenges that, coupled with economic uncertainties, are increasingly difficult to navigate. Serious concern over existing policy, the current state of the automotive industry and fuel distribution system, capricious oil markets, immature bio-based technology, and competing environmental policy battles all make the conversion to bio-based technologies difficult.

In order to expedite the transition to a bioeconomy in a way that is politically and economically sustainable, policies need to be in place that encourage growth in promising technologies by leveraging the free market. This should be done by reforming existing policy such as the Renewable Fuel Standard and the Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards, and crafting new policy that encourages economically robust biochemicals and bioproducts to penetrate the market, and that lowers the barriers to entry for new bio-based industries. Additionally, the potential of pricing carbon in an economically-minded way should also be taken into consideration.

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